We’ve seen a lot of interesting patents from Apple over the last few days, but Microsoft loves to patent things too — and they’ve just been granted a nice little pack of designs for mobile phones in a special slider format, and some Kinect and mouse tech to boot.
They’re not patenting a plain slider, of course. They’re patenting a few specific designs of sliding mechanism by which, once you finish the sliding action, the keyboard and the screen are “positioned in a substantially similar plane.” That is to say, mostly flush. Check it out:
The advantage is, potentially, a more comfortable typing experience. Many complained about having to type around the G1’s “chin,” and other phones with sunken keyboards have similar problems. My issue with a design like this is that the additional hinges and such might end up increasing the weight and decreasing the sturdiness of the phone. The second design does look more interesting, though, lowering the display rather than raising the keyboard. That could actually work.
What I’d like to see is some patents on a slider keyboard with keys that are actually fun to type on. Or maybe a slide-out keyboard for a tablet that doesn’t increase the weight the thing by 500%.
Microsoft was also granted a patent that clearly relates to the Kinect — it’s about determining the potential space for gestures and tracking user movement within a sort of cone. I wouldn’t say this is particularly exciting, but if you’re interested in the Kinect and Microsoft’s implementation thereof, it could make for some fun reading this weekend.
More up my alley, Microsoft has patented a method of interacting with games via multi-touch mice. I’m pretty surprised this patent flew, since games are just a form of software, and there must be hundreds of patents in play regarding the interaction of software and multi-touch surfaces. I mainly liked looking over the patent because they use illustrations that hearken back to the days of yore, when multi-touch mice were a novel proposition.