The technology has been around for awhile, but recently a patent was published to show that Microsoft is working on a liquid-powered hinge for the next-generation of foldable devices. If the patent is approved, this liquid hinge would replace mechanical hinges currently found on products like the Microsoft Surface, and just like magnets, the liquid hinge will hold the devices closed. The patent application shows that the liquid hinge can be made from a multitude of substances, including water, alcohol, propylene glycol, and vegetable oils, and the hinges can even be adjusted to maintain a particular level of tension to hold the device in various positions, depending on how much pressure is placed on them.
The Surface Laptop and Surface Pro 4 have a hinge mechanism that is powered by a liquid crystal polymer (LCP) switch. The LCP switch is a flexible, translucent material that is highly conductive, flexible and capable of fast switching. The switch is not just a way to fold the Surface into a tablet; it helps with all the other motions the Surface performs as well—including clicking the keyboard, opening the screen and flipping the screen to the side.
There’s probably a good reason why Microsoft has been sitting on the patent for what could be the company’s next big hinge. When it was originally filed back in 2013, it described a method for transforming any flat device into a “futuristic hybrid tablet PC and laptop.” The patent describes a hinge mechanism that can separate a display from the main device, allowing the user to use the device in a variety of different orientations.It seems that Microsoft is working on a foldable Surface device that will resemble both the Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X. However, we could be in for a big change as patent documents show that the Microsoft Surface foldable device will have something unique. What makes Microsoft Surface’s foldable device unique is that it will run on a liquid-filled hinge. This ensures that the hinge remains flexible and does not damage the folded screen.
It is also worth mentioning that the Microsoft Surface device will have an OLED screen. So we will see the next foldable Surface device, either a laptop or a tablet that can be folded in half. While we’ve already seen portable Surface devices in the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop lines, there is no foldable device yet. So it will be interesting to see what Microsoft brings with its first foldable Surface device.
As for the device, the company is expected to release a teaser of what it is working on during an event at the 2nd. The unveiling in October, where other Surface devices are also expected to be announced. So we can already get a first glimpse of the alleged Microsoft Surface device. Some reports also point out that it will be a marvel of folding technology. Because Microsoft uses a fluid-powered joint instead of a traditional joint.
If Microsoft’s plan works, we will see many smartphone manufacturers copying them in the near future. On the other hand, The Verge reports that this patent was filed by Microsoft Technology Licensing, which suggests that this patent could be transferred by Microsoft to other companies to make money from it.
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