Future Lenovo 2-in-1 laptop could one-up MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar

Lenovo Miix 630
Image Credit: TechRadar

Lenovo could be working on a notebook which boasts what the company refers to as a ‘mini display’, or a touch strip across the top of the keyboard, in the same vein as Apple’s Touch Bar for the MacBook Pro – but with more advanced functionality.

This is according to a patent published earlier this month (spotted by Windows Latest) for a ‘multiple display device’, which discusses a 2-in-1 laptop consisting of a display portion, a keyboard base, and the aforementioned mini display at the top of the keyboard.

This potential touch display strip would offer convenient and swift access to various interface functions, similar to the MacBook Pro. Or, it could also be hooked up to your smartphone (or another device), to funnel through notifications, texts, and so forth, offering convenient access to your mobile (and perhaps deepening the connection between Windows 10 and smartphones, a front on which Microsoft is already pushing forward via apps such as Your Phone).

Lenovo patent for a ‘multiple display device’ (Image Credit: USPTO)

Lenovo patent for a ‘multiple display device’ (Image Credit: USPTO)

Hinge Bar?

The patent describes several implementations of this mini display whereby it could simply be positioned above the keyboard, as with Apple’s Touch Bar, and recessed into the keyboard housing, or it could actually be part of the hinge which secures the main display to the base of the notebook.

Lenovo also discusses a concept whereby the touch strip can be tilted up – either manually, or automatically – for a better viewing angle, so it doesn’t just remain flat on the keyboard base all the time.

Furthermore, a scenario is mentioned where there could be two mini displays, with a second one on the rear, meaning that when the notebook is shut, that display would still be viewable so it could impart useful notifications from a phone, and so on, even when you’re not using the machine.

There are a lot of different ideas floated in this patent, so it’s difficult to tell exactly what Lenovo has in mind as an end goal. However, it’s clear that the PC manufacturer is certainly exploring ideas for its own spin on Apple’s Touch Bar – but as ever with patents, a final product may never be produced (and all this work might never make it beyond the doors of the research labs).

Also, an idea such as this may just get swept away in the current fever for dual-screen or foldable laptops (or indeed phones). 

Indeed, so far this year, we have already written about two patents Lenovo has on the boil for foldable devices of one sort or another, so it could be the case that the company is now prioritizing that path of development. As ever, we’ll only find out by keeping our eyes peeled.

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).