Considering the swath of Microsoft patents involving Surface devices recently, the company's upcoming Surface Pro 7 may be something special. Yes, there is sarcasm in that statement because it is increasingly clear not all the developments will be on the company's next 2-in-1.
However, one newly discovered Microsoft patent features a mechanism that we think is more likely to be included on the Surface Pro 7. Once again, Microsoft is tweaking the hinge dynamics and seeking something more durable.
Windows Latest discovered a patent filed by Microsoft in 2017 and published to USPTO on June 18, 2019. Titled “High strength hinge mechanism”, the patent's goal is wrapped up right there in the title.
We know Microsoft is working on delivering a super-thin Surface Pro through the seventh generation. In the patent, the company points out increasingly thin devices pose a problem for hinge technology.
Specifically, there is a limitation on the volume and thus strength of a hinge on a thin device. Through daily use, the abuse taken by the hinge is substantial and existing mechanisms are not up to the task.
Microsoft thinks it has found a solution per its patent. The high strength hinge attaches to both the cover part of the Surface Pro and the base, allowing relative rotation between them. Microsoft describes a friction damper and a cylindrical shaft attached to a chassis for added strength.
“The rotation of the shaft enables the display portion to be rotated from a closed position to a fully-open position. The hinge mechanism also includes a frame structure to support the friction element and the shaft,” Microsoft says.
“During testing, the shaft of the hinge mechanism experienced reduced stress and reduced incidence of failure during drop testing due to the improved support that the frame structure provides,” the company adds.
Recent Patent Surge
Microsoft patents have been discovered at pace recently, most of them focused on the company's Surface products. Just last month, my collegue Ryan Maskell reported on a new Type Cover that is being prepared for the Surface Pro 7.
The patent shows a Type Cover that sports a USB-C port, while there is also a USB-A and Mini DisplayPort included. Those holding onto headphone jacks (as you should be) will be happy to see a 3.5mm port included.
It also seems Microsoft is going all in on creating a new Surface Pen experience. Earlier this month, we reported on a patent that described a stylus device that also works as an earpiece. Microsoft is also working on a pen that will work as a full mouse replacement. Furthermore, as I reported yesterday, the company has also patented a Surface Pen with a Touch Bar-like virtual screen.