The patent published at the end February, has the catchy title of ‘Friction hinge with clutch-based resistance’ and describes a hinge that offers different levels of resistance depending if it is behind opened or closed. Here’s how the patent describes it:
”Friction hinges with low or lower closing resistance levels are described. The friction hinges may thus have different opening and closing resistance levels. The lower closing resistance level allows the hinge to be closed with a lower amount of torque than used to open the hinge. In examples involving a hinged kickstand or a cover, closing the cover or kickstand does not involve the same effort as involved in opening the kickstand or cover. A lower closing resistance may be convenient for the user. A higher opening resistance level may be useful for device stability.”
In practice I would expect the next Surface Pro (the presumptively named Surface Pro 7) to still have the same ‘stiffness’ to the kickstand as it is opened, which will also provide the same level of ‘bite’ stopping it opening wider than needed. Closing one of the current Surface Pro machines requires the same amount of force.
In the future, this hinge design would mean a much lighter touch would be needed, creating a better user experience and hardware better suited to portability.
Being a patent there’s no certainty that it would be fitted to production models, but this is a marginal gain that matches the ethos of the design, is practical, and would be one more ‘moment of joy’ when using the Surface Pro.
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