In September 2011, Samsung's first patent regarding a dual display smartphone was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Our coverage of that particular patent was fixated on the two displays being seamlessly joined at the center folding point so as to provide a larger display for viewing content. A second patent on this next generation smartphone has now come to light and this time it appears that Samsung may have found the missing piece to their puzzle in finishing this product. Samsung's killer smartphone design is clearly advancing and is one step closer to coming to market. It's a design that could bring some fresh thinking to the smartphone sector while giving it enough panache to finally challenge Apple's iPhone. Time will tell.
Today's Small Smartphone Displays are Too Limited
Today's mobile device provide various applications or types of communications that may be performed, such as voice communication, short message service, mobile banking, television (TV) watching, on-line game service and on-demand video services. The problem is that most smartphones provide users with a rather small display. This makes it rather difficult to enjoy surfing the net, watching TV, playing an online video game or viewing some sort of multimedia presentation. Simply put, these tiny displays are just too limited.
As a result, Samsung thinks that there's a need for a portable communication device to have a "multidisplay" solution to meet the needs of today's savvy mobile users.
Samsung's Multidisplay Solution
Samsung's invention is about providing a portable communication device with a plurality of display units which rotate stepwise by a sophisticated multi-axis hinge. The new invention will apply to smartphones, Portable Multimedia Players (PMPs), MP3 players, digital broadcasting players, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), and smart phones, and so forth, and their application apparatus.
Samsung's Dual Display Smartphone Ideal for eBooks, Games & Mobile TV
In describing one aspect of patent FIG. 8 above, Samsung states that "a display unit of the first housing (20) may display a chatting window and the other display unit of the second housing (30) may display an Internet window."
In describing one aspect of patent FIG. 9 above, Samsung states that the two displays 22 and 31 "may be used together to display a picture and/or a moving picture on a larger-sized screen." In context with various descriptors, this translates to being able to play video in general, video games, and digital broadcasting – as in Television.
To clarify the last point about TV, patent point 0005 specifically lists "television (TV) watching, on-line game service and on-demand video service are communications or applications that may be provided to users …" It also lists voice communication, short message service and mobile banking.
In patent FIG. 6, we see that the strength of the hinge will securely allow the unit to stay in a position on a desktop allowing the user to view content while recharging it without the need for a separate docking station.
Samsung's Seamless Display
In our first report on this subject matter posted in September 2011, we covered Samsung's "foldable display" patent. The patent was focused on two separate displays coming together side-by-side seamlessly to create the illusion of it being one larger display when looking at a picture or watching a video. In the January 2009 video shown below, you'll be able to witness just how great it'll be to have a multi-display based smartphone for certain types of content. In the video you'll hear the Samsung representative saying it would take about two years to come to market. The problem holding this unit back was figuring out its manufacturability.
While the video was quite stunning for its time, it was blindingly evident that one of the key drawbacks to the design in 2009 was its hinge. For demo purposes they created a marketing cranking-tool to open and close the device. But that manufacturability problem was likely due to a lack of a viable hinge solution. A large portion's of Samsung's recent patent is all about new hinge solutions.
Samsung's Hinge Designs will allow the Smartphone to Hold Various Configurations
The verbiage in Samsung's patent application is a little tricky. On one hand you sense that there are only two displays that either fold in or fold out. Yet the video noted earlier clearly illustrates a minimum of three displays. Considering that Samsung's patent application is clearly using the term "multidisplay" and not dual display, the smartphone design may in fact end up offering 3 or more displays in one unit. It just keeps getting more interesting all the time.
Samsung appears to have found the right hinging solution for their advanced smartphone design but the timing of the device coming to market is still in the air. Samsung's patent application was originally filed in Q4 2011in the US and Q4 2010 in Korea. The patent was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office In Q2 2012.
Samsung's Transparent Display Patent Surfaces
On another note, Samsung's transparent display for notebooks has come to light. This was first demonstrated at CES in January 2010.
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Sites Covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, Twitter, Facebook, App News Fans China, 9to5 Google, SamMobile, CRN Australia, Ubergizmo, Android Authority, Galaxy S II France, Samsung HD Blog Italy, Stuff.TV, UnWire Hong Kong, PC Authority Australia, and more.