Dell could make a foldable device that has three or four screens

Dell foldable device
Image Credit: USPTO

Dell is potentially working on another laptop with multiple screens, but this concept is looking to push things even further by utilizing three or four displays to make for an even greater level of flexibility compared to today’s 2-in-1s, or the many rumored dual-screen or foldable devices we’ve been hearing about of late.

The broad idea here, as outlined in a patent published last July but only just spotted by Windows Latest, is for a device which has an OLED display stretched across multiple ‘housing portions’ all of which are connected by hinges.

So that’s similar to the Dell patent we highlighted last week for a 2-in-1 device with a flexible OLED display across two portions, with a central rotational hinge to facilitate folding. But in this particular case, Dell floats the idea of having three or four housing portions, to allow for the device to be folded into more different configurations.

The patent describes having a planar tablet orientation – with all the displays flat, to make for a large tablet – and a clamshell orientation, or a standard laptop format. In the case of the device having three display sections, the latter will mean one section is folded under the base so you get a traditional notebook form factor (as seen in the image at the top of this article).

Dell’s concept for a four-display device in a videoconferencing configuration (Image Credit: USPTO)

Dell’s concept for a four-display device in a videoconferencing configuration (Image Credit: USPTO)

Or you could have all three sections upright and folded into a triangle to facilitate videoconferencing for multiple users, with each display showing its own video. And indeed in the case of a four-display device, that could be stood up in a square four-fold configuration (as illustrated above).

Adaptive tricks

As is often the case with these multi-screen device concepts, Dell also describes the interface being tied to the hardware, so the device can automatically detect when it is reoriented from, say, tablet to laptop mode, and adjust its interface to suit, by displaying a virtual keyboard and/or touchpad on the base section.

Naturally, we don’t know if this machine will make it past the research and development or prototyping stages, as ever with any patented technology.

What we can say, however, is that Dell has this and a number of other similar ideas in the pipeline, including the 2-and-1 we’ve already mentioned, and a nifty-looking laptop with two detachable displays.

So we can probably expect some kind of innovative multi-screen device in the pipeline from Dell, and of course, the other PC makers like Lenovo who are also looking into their own similarly innovative and versatile machines.

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).