Microsoft's latest idea? How foldable two-screen mobile could use 'hinge gestures'

If Microsoft ever launches a foldable phone, it could have these new hinge controls.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Video -- Microsoft's rumored Andromeda foldable device: Here's what to expect.

Microsoft has published a patent detailing how it will overcome the challenges of interacting with a foldable device.

It's the latest in a run of patents from Microsoft focusing on foldable mobile devices, and follows one from March describing a sophisticated hinge-mechanism to support a dual-screen folding mobile.

The patents may be a part of Microsoft's rumored Andromeda folding tablet.

The latest patent, first reported on Windows Central, was filed in 2016 by Microsoft and describes "input based on interaction with a physical hinge", which outlines complexities introduced to touch input on a dual-screen hinged device compared with a single-screen device.

"Consequently, a typical gesture language may be inefficient for these devices given the ergonomics of holding and interacting with such a device. This can detract from user enjoyment and lead to user frustration when using these types of devices," Microsoft's engineers write.

See: 30 things you should never do in Microsoft Office (free PDF)

Microsoft says the hinge design necessitates a new class of "hinge-based interactions" that involve the user moving the hinge to provide the computer with an input.

The hinge gesture could be used to start system-level commands, operations, interactions with content, and initiate transitions between views. Microsoft suggests a hinge angle change could be used to switch between a single-tasking state and multitasking state.

The company also considers the possibility of combining other input signals with hinge gestures, for example, for multitasking actions, to launch a related app, or to create a different view in the same app.

These signals could include the speed a hinge is moved at, how the user is gripping the device, and the screen's orientation.

If hinge gestures ever become a thing, Microsoft's engineers think it would be good to provide user feedback to show how far the user has to go to complete a gesture, such as a progress bar indicating what percent of a given action has been completed.

They also think audio and haptic feedback would be useful to tell the user if a gesture is being performed correctly or incorrectly.

Other recent foldable phone patents from Redmond include its self-regulating hinge concept and one from 2014 showing off a tablet-like foldable device.


Microsoft's patent shows how hinge gestures could be used to start commands, operations, and interactions.

Image: Microsoft

Previous and related coverage

Microsoft's rumored Andromeda foldable mobile device: What might be inside?

If and when Microsoft brings a foldable mobile Windows 10 device to market, are there specific apps and services might give it a fighting chance?

Microsoft patent hints at dual-screen foldable tablet

Could these hinges offer Microsoft a new entry into the mobile market?

Microsoft's latest mobile patent may provide next-generation Surface device clues

A newly revealed Microsoft patent application for a foldable phone and hinge has reignited speculation about the company's plans to re-enter the mobile-device space.

Microsoft's fancy hinge patent could mean folding phones CNET

But would Microsoft actually build one?

Editorial standards