Surface patents show Microsoft's novel approach to pen storage

While Microsoft has experimented with a number of ways to ensure you don't lose the $99 Surface Pen that comes with its line of 2-in-1s and laptops; from loops on the Type Cover to magnetic links on the side of the device, neither has been as well received as simply adding a storage compartment inside the device would be.

Reviewers and users alike have questioned Microsoft's decision with each iteration of the Surface Pro but the company has persisted, giving precedence to the ergonomic comfort of having a normal-sized pen over the difficulty of storing such a large accessory. While Samsung simply includes a small storage compartment in the chassis of its phones and tablets, the tradeoff there is having to resort to a much smaller pen size, making it difficult and sometimes painful to write with it for long periods of time.

Microsoft isn't deaf to the criticism, however, as new patents show the company is considering a number of novel ideas that would allow them to maintain the ergonomics of their current design while still allowing users to tuck the stylus into the chassis itself.

The first of these is a design concept with a bow-shaped cross-section shell that would house half the external chassis within it, and can be rotated to get the full-sized pen. This would allow the pen to be reduced to a smaller thickness in one direction and easily stowed into the device in that orientation, as shown in Figure 7A in the first image.

The second is a similar concept but the shell is now a semi-circular cylinder and a symmetrical semi-circle can be rotated out of the shell to give normal stylus. Once you're done writing, it can then be stowed back into the shell and stored in the tablet chassis, as shown in Figure 7B.

The third is a play on the second idea but instead of a shell enclosing half the circumference of the pen chassis, the chassis is simply divided into two equal semi-circles which can be linked with a hinge when writing and separated when storing the pen. This implementation, however, does require the use of two storage compartments on the device to store each half of the pen.

There's no guarantee that Microsoft will ever adopt these ideas into a commercially available product, but it would definitely be a relief if the company can use these, or other, designs to finally fix the storage issue so users don't have to worry about their stylus falling off the magnetic clamps and getting lost all the time.

Source: WIPO via MSPoweruser

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