Windows Latest was eagle-eyed enough to pick up on a patent Microsoft has filed which explores some nifty new ideas for a future Surface Pen.
The patent – which is shown at freepatentsonline.com [PDF file] – is typically dense with the usual gobbledegook (overuse of techie terminology and repetitious sentences), but the gist is as follows.
Microsoft wants to cater to the stylus with the touchpad not just to allow this as a second option to use with the pen aside from the display, but crucially, to detect the stylus.
What’s the advantage of that? As Microsoft explains in the patent, it’s looking at the implementation of an active stylus, one which is capable of pairing with the device and automatically selecting different settings based on the user.
And with the tech in the touchpad, the stylus could receive data from the laptop before coming near the screen, thus making for more responsive pairing and quicker application of those custom user settings for the pen (rather than having a possible delay, with the process only happening when the stylus has almost reached the display).
Analysis: A more powerful pen
The overall drive here is for a more responsive stylus in terms of how quickly it pairs, and swiftly implementing custom settings for different users. The further advantage is having the touchpad able to receive input from the pen adds considerable versatility, too.
We’re thinking particularly of the scenario where you’re jotting notes with a Surface device in laptop configuration. Rather than trying to write with the pen on the vertical touchscreen, you can jot words on the touchpad which is lying flat on the desk right in front of you for a more natural writing experience.
That all sounds pretty nifty, but as ever with patents, don’t get carried away yet. Microsoft – and other big tech companies – explore a whole bunch of ideas and file patents for them regularly, with only a small percentage of them actually becoming a reality. (Although they may form the basis for another idea down the line, too, even if the actual patent in question doesn’t emerge).
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).