Microsoft dual screen device patent turns the hinge into a third screen

There is a lot of fuss over foldable devices and their flexible, bendable screens but those aren't the only new things in town. LG kicked things off last year with the LG V50 ThinQ Dual Screen and sometime later this year we'll finally see the Surface Duo and, later on, the Surface Neo in the wild. One problem with the latter dual screen implementations, however, is the hinge that bridges and at the same time divides the two screens. It seems that Microsoft may have an idea on how to turn this liability into a potential strength.

Unlike with a foldable screen, the gap between the two screens of something like the Surface Neo is a necessary side-effect of the design. Because of current limitations in display technology, that often leads to dead unusable space taken up by bezels. That also means that there is a very prominent area that cuts the image in half, disrupting both the presentation and the interaction.

Microsoft's solution? Going by a new patent spotted by, WindowsLatest, MSPowerUser reports, you turn that area into a third screen. So instead of two, you actually have three screens, the third one being the "spine" of the folding device. When laid out flat, this screen could visually continue the content from one screen to another, leaving no visual gap between the two.

One might wonder why not just try to remove the bezel between the two screens. That's because the patent also envisions a device that can fold outward, like the Huawei Mate X, leaving the spine facing outward. That would then transform that third screen into something like a notification panel for a limited and quick view of some important information.

While it almost makes sense, this design definitely changes how a foldable device would behave and be made. For one, there will be four hinges, here, two at the top and two at the bottom. It also doesn't address the fact that screens, even those that curve off at the edges, still have bezels. Granted, this is merely a patent with no assurance of becoming an actual product but it would definitely be interesting to see one made real.