A new invention from Microsoft envisions a dual display smartphone that could actually separate into two distinct functional units when needed. One could be a smartphone and the other a PDA. If you've ever had to review a document with a colleague while on your smartphone, you know the hassles of what that could mean. With this new unit, you could be talking to your colleague while reviewing a document or draft that they just sent to you. It equally means that you could view new photos that your friend just sent to you while still talking to them. While the idea may seem pretty simple, the fact is that no one has yet to pull it off. It's time for smartphones to take on new form factors and this is one of the smarter ones to surface.
Today, Multi-Touch is a standard way of interacting with mobile devices. However, there are still many interaction types that are difficult to perform on a mobile device. This is largely due to limited screen real estate and small device form. Drag-and-drop, for instance, is difficult or impossible on most mobile devices. It is also difficult for more than one person to simultaneously view information on a mobile device.
Microsoft's Detachable Dual Display Smartphone
Microsoft's patent FIG. 1 shown below is a diagram of an operating environment. As shown, we see an individual holding two devices: one as a smartphone to his ear (100A) while holding another device in his left hand to review some data while talking on the phone (100B). The smartphone is using voice services while the second is using data services.
The two devices that the individual is holding are really two parts of a single device that are able to detach when necessary or desired. Microsoft describes this unit as a dual module portable device which may be comprised of a first module 100A and a second module 100B. The dual module portable device may comprise, but is not limited to, a communications device, a mobile communications device, a mobile device comprising a camera and speakers, a personal digital assistant, a telephone, a cellular telephone, a smartphone, a computer, or a handheld computer.
Magnetic Strips & Drag and Drop
In Microsoft's FIG. 2 noted below we're able to see that the two displays are part of one device. Microsoft states that the two displays are held together magnetically using magnetic strips that are edge to edge so that they align just right.
Microsoft says when the two displays are connected together, the user may drag and drop objects displayed in one Multi-Touch display to the second Multi-Touch display. One of the two displays could also be reversed so that when closed, one side will remain an easily accessible smartphone.
Furthermore, consistent with embodiments of the invention, first module 100A and second module 100B may each comprise position, motion, and orientation detection sensors.
In embodiments of the invention, first display 100A may be operative to execute an action associated with its relative motions to the second display 100B. For example, moving the first display forward relative to second display may cause the first display (200) to zoom out of a displayed first user interface portion, while the second display (205) may zoom in on a displayed second user interface portion. Accordingly, various detected gestures may cause various user interface manipulations.
Communication Motion Detections & Proximity
For patent FIG. 3, Microsoft states that the first and second displays may initially be connected (as shown in FIG. 2) in order to set a distance calibration point. Illustrated in patent FIG. 3 we see a user separating the first display from the second and yet the two are able to inter-communicate with each other's motion detections. Based on these communicated motion detections, and taking into account the initial calibration point, the display/modules may be able to calculate proximity (300). In this way, when each module has detected and communicated a displacement of, for example, six inches in exact opposite directions from the initial calibration point, proximity may be calculated to a value of 12 inches. In other embodiments, proximity may be determined by inter-communicating module positions rather than motions.
Although Microsoft's patent application was originally filed in February 2012, the fact is that they secured the date of the invention in 2009 via a divisional patent. So technically speaking, this invention could be well into the prototyping phase by now or found in File 13. The patent was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office in Q2 2012.
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Sidenote: Productivity Future Vision: If you happen to like videos about possible future devices and scenarios at home or the office, then check out this video.
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