Intel files patent for dual screen laptop hinge

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At Computex 2018, Intel showed off two dual screen laptop prototypes.

One of it is code named “Tiger Rapids.” It looks like a Moleskine notebook with two displays instead of papers.

The left screen looks like a Windows desktop with a 7.9 inch LCD. The right screen is an E-Ink display. The screens flip around 360 degrees and can work either as a laptop or a tablet. The E-Ink display is used as a keyboard in laptop configuration. The device is 4.85mm thin, slimmer than an iPhone.

Intel won’t be manufacturing this device. It shared its prototype with manufacturers like Asus and Lenovo to make their own designs based on the prototype.  

The other prototype is a dual touchscreen display with a hinge in between. The hinge allows the device to be used either as a laptop or a tablet. One of the touchscreen displays can be used as a keyboard in laptop configuration. The device can be used in 180 degree configuration (or book configuration) so that an app can span both the screens.

The two displays are connected by a hinge in between. Due to this hinge, there is a gap between the two displays. To get the best experience in 180 degree configuration, the gap between both the displays should be minimum.

Last week, Intel filed a patent application in the USPTO for a dual screen laptop hinge that reduces the gap between the two displays.

Intel notes in its filing,

“Mobile compute devices come in a variety of forms, including cell phones, laptops, and tablets. Some mobile compute devices may fit into more that one category, such as a laptop with a display that can be folded 360 degrees and convert from a laptop-like configuration to a tablet-like configuration. Some mobile compute devices have a second display where a keyboard may otherwise be and allow for both of the displays to be laid flat like an open book. In such a configuration, there may be a gap between the two displays.”

From the Intel’s patent application

Intel also notes that the touchscreen display may be any display such as a liquid crystal display (LCD), an LED, etc. The touchscreen may be resistive or capacitive.

Limitation of using a circular gear hinge

If the gear hinge between the two displays is of a circular shape, the distance between the center of top gear and the center of bottom gear will be fixed. It does not change as the display screen is rotated.

To reduce the gap, the size of the circular gear hinge should be reduced. But, the gear size cannot be reduced below the thickness of the display housings. So, there is a limit to the size of the gap between the displays when a circular gear hinge is used.

Figure 3 shown below from the patent application illustrates a dual screen laptop with a circular hinge.

From the Intel’s patent application

FIG. 3A is a view of a dual display mobile compute device in a closed configuration;
FIG. 3B is a view of a dual display mobile compute device in a partially open configuration;
FIG. 3C is a view of a dual display mobile compute device in a notebook or laptop configuration;
FIG. 3D is a view of a dual display mobile compute device in a book configuration;
FIG. 3E is a view of a dual display mobile compute device in transition from the book configuration to a tablet configuration;
FIG. 3F is a view of a dual display mobile compute device in a tablet configuration;

Non-circular gear hinge to reduce the gap between the displays

If a non-circular gear hinge is used, the distance between the center of the top gear and the center of the bottom gear is reduced when the device is rotated 180 degrees i.e. in book configuration.

Figures 5 & 6 shown below from the Intel’s patent application illustrate the usage of circular and non-circular gear hinges in the dual screen laptop.

The gap between displays is more when a circular gear hinge is used and the gap is less when a non-circular (elliptical) gear hinge is used.

From the Intel’s patent application

Intel mentions in the patent application that the gears may be made of a material that can withstand a high amount of stress, such as steel, titanium, iron, metallic alloys, etc. It also mentions that the gears may be made of a different suitable material, such as a plastic, aluminum, etc.

We need to wait and see if this invention gets incorporated into future dual screen laptops.

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