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Microsoft documents confirm futuristic surface plans



It’s rare to see a Microsoft Surface device promoted without the Surface Pen. It’s a key feature that is talked about regularly by the Surface team, and it’s an area that is ripe for innovation. The latest details show that work continues to create a more intelligent pen.

The details come from a patent entitled “Stylus for Zero Force Activation”

; and describe a system that enhances the Surface Pen’s ability to know when to switch to ink mode. Mayank Parmar reports:

“… Microsoft says the stylus still uses a vibrating tip to determine when contact with a surface occurs. The patented Surface Pen also comes with a capsule designed to minimize the movement of the shaft, and the shaft runs parallel to the pen.

“The tip has two antennas, and one is connected to the shaft by a track made of metal material. There is also a transmitter placed in the tip, and it can detect the position of the stylus tip and then quickly switch to color mode.”

Microsoft’s Surface vision is always built around different working methods. Think of the Surface Pro 2-in-1s with their detachable keyboards that allowed for a tablet experience with and without qwerty input. Think of the Surface Book’s excellent feature of a laptop with a fully removable screen? Even in the Surface Laptop, which does not have a physical transformation, you can still move between pen input and trackpad movements. Surface is about multiple modes and switching between them quickly and easily.

It includes the Surface Pen. It has two uses. The first is the more traditional stylus-based approach to computing that replicates the ideas of a mouse or touchpad in operation. The second mode is color mode, where your artistic flair can take over.

Letting the Surface Pen better understand when to change mode, reduce the delay in switching mode and create a ‘magic’ experience that mixes stylus and ink modes is a natural next step for Microsoft to address.

As always, a published patent shows the direction that a company is taking with hardware development, but it does not guarantee that this technology will be seen on consumer devices. But some patents are more likely to emerge than others. This one feels like something we will see in the near future.

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