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Microsoft documents confirm futuristic surface plans



It is rare for a Microsoft Surface device to be advertised without its Surface Pen. It’s a key role that the Surface team talks about regularly, and it’s an area that is ripe for innovation. The latest details show that work continues to make a smarter pen.

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

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

“… Microsoft says the pen still uses a vibrating tip to determine when contact with a surface is occurring. The patented Surface Pen also comes with a capsule that minimizes movement of the shaft and keeps the shaft parallel to the length of the pen.

“The tip has two antennas and one is connected to the shaft via a metal rail. There is also a transmitter in the tip that detects the position of the pen tip and then quickly switches to color mode.”

Microsoft’s Surface Vision has always been based on different working modes. Think of the Surface Pro 2-in-1 with its detachable keyboards that enable a tablet experience with and without QWERTY input. Remember the great feature of the Surface Book for a laptop with a fully detachable screen? Even in the Surface Laptop, which has no physical transformation, you can switch between pen input and trackpad movements. Surface is about several modes that can be switched between quickly and easily.

This includes the Surface Pen. There are two types of use. The first is the more traditional pen-based approach to computing, where the ideas of a mouse or trackpad are replicated in the field. The second mode is the color mode, which is where your artistic flair can get the upper hand.

It is a natural next step for Microsoft to enable the Surface Pen to better understand when to switch modes, reduce the delay in switching modes, and create a “magical” experience mixing pen and color modes.

As always, a published patent shows the direction a company is taking in hardware development, but does not guarantee that the technology will be used on consumer devices. However, some patents come up more often than others. This one feels like something we’ll see in the near future.

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