Intel certainly isn’t the first player in the tech space to experiment with folding screen technology, but it’s definitely among the biggest to issue a patent. Obtained by Dutch tech news website LetsGoDigital (opens in new tab), the 2017 patent (opens in new tab) exhaustively details a phone-like device that folds out into a complete tablet.
The patent application from Intel is so precise that LetsGoDigital created 3D renders from the drawings, depicting the device running a mock version of Microsoft’s Windows 10. Of course, we know that Microsoft is preparing its operating system for exactly this situation, so LetsGoDigital isn’t coming out of left field on this.
Essentially, the device will stretch a single screen across three panels that fold into one another. When completely folded, the device acts like a full-screen smartphone. When one panel is left unfolded, the device acts like a tiny laptop with a touchscreen keyboard. Finally, the device becomes a full-blown tablet when completely unfolded out.
This design would also support a stylus that tucks in between the folds of the displays when the device is closed, and held in place either with a clip or via magnets.
The evolution of a long-running plan
This isn't the first time we’ve seen Intel experiment with folding and bending devices with multiple displays. During Computex 2018 in Taipei, Taiwan, Intel showed off two such prototypes as part of what is known as the Tiger Rapids project.
One was a folding smartphone and another was a hybrid laptop device, and both employed two separate displays.
We now know that not only has Intel been working on devices with multiple displays, but with screens that bend and fold along with the device’s hinges.
If you thought that it was only Microsoft and Samsung that had big plans for folding screens, then prepare for a deluge of flexible devices in the near future.
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