Technology

Forget about flexible screens – Microsoft patents “foldable mouse”

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Foldable screens have made some crazy phone and PC designs possible in the past few years. As the trend towards bend tech continues, Microsoft wants to bring the wireless mouse up to date. According to an international patent discovered by the German tech site WindowsUnited, Microsoft is researching the idea of ​​a “foldable mouse”.

The patent is listed on PatentScope, a service of the World Intellectual Property Organization that provides a searchable database of international patent applications. Microsoft’s patent was published Thursday and filed in March. It describes a mouse that is similar to today’s Microsoft Arc wireless mouse, but is flatter and easier to carry.

This is how Microsoft describes the peripheral device:

A foldable computer mouse is provided that includes a deformable body that can be configured to be shaped into a first expanded configuration that is useful for receiving inputs for controlling a computing device and a second folded configuration in which a first portion of the deformable body is folded over a second portion of the deformable body.

Microsoft’s illustrations give a good idea of ​​what the company has in mind.An example of a foldable mouse in the Microsoft patent.Enlarge / An example of a foldable mouse in the Microsoft patent.

The patent also indicates the use of an “expandable sleeve” on top of the mouse.

Expandable shell.Enlarge / Expandable shell.

The shell would sit on what Microsoft calls the “malleable body”.

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Foldable mouse with an expandable shell on top.Enlarge / Foldable mouse with an expandable shell on top.

According to the patent, the mouse could include a movement tracker to detect movement. The patent indicates an internal component that is “configured to wirelessly communicate tactile input and motion tracking data to the computing device”. Some Microsoft Arc mice have built in a haptic scroll strip to make up for the lack of a physical scroll wheel.The patent names haptic feedback and an inductive charging coil as possible features.Enlarge / The patent names haptic feedback and an inductive charging coil as possible features.

What is a flexible mouse used for? Today’s mice are often “too bulky or impractical to carry around with a portable computing device,” according to Microsoft. Even small mice intended for travel are “ergonomic in design and can be inconvenient to use,” according to the Microsoft patent.

As with any patent, there is no guarantee that Microsoft’s foldable mouse will ever see the light of day. We reached out to Microsoft and they said they would not comment on future product roadmaps. But we wouldn’t trust Microsoft to develop a foldable mouse – because it already has.

Today’s Arc mouse can go from curved to flat, but it doesn’t bend in half. The design has been around since the 2010 Arc Touch mouse.Today's Arc is inherently flexible.Enlarge / Today’s Arc is inherently flexible.

Even further back, the original Arc Mouse from 2008 had a hinge that let the mouse open and close. The original Microsoft Arc mouse had a metal hinge.Enlarge / The original Microsoft Arc mouse had a metal hinge.

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