Microsoft files patent for smartphone with interchangeable modules

first_imgIf you look at how smartphone designs have changed over the past few years, you’ll notice a growing trend towards offering up just a single, large touchscreen display with the hardware hidden in the casing behind it. In some cases you’ll get a slide out section for a keyboard, but the norm is increasingly just a big touchscreen.Microsoft may break away from that design in the future though, if a patent that has come to light turns out to be a real product in development.The Microsoft patent is entitled “Mobile communication device having multiple, interchangeable second devices.” What it boils down to is a smartphone that has a number of interchangeable modules offering the user a configurable experience.Such an idea isn’t exactly new, Modu for example tried a similar thing in 2009, but ended up having its patents acquired by Google rather than making a success of the device. As this is Microsoft though, and it is now fully focused on the smartphone market, this idea may turn into a real product one day.As you can see in the image above, the design of the phone body looks very similar to what is common today. However, slide the display back and you have an empty section where interchangeable modules can be inserted. Microsoft lists a game controller, second battery, physical keyboard, and even a second display as possible gadgets that can sit in the phone.Importantly, each interchangeable part must be able to wirelessly communicate with the core phone module. That means fewer connectors to worry about, but also opens up the option of using 3 of these modules together. So, for example, you could have the second display inserted into the phone and then hold the game controller module to control a game played across both displays.With the industry as a whole producing thinner and less power-hungry handsets, a question hangs over whether anyone actually wants a smartphone like this. It would clearly need to be substantially thicker than today’s high-end handsets, and do people really need or would consider buying a keyboard module on top of what they already paid for the phone?More at RegHardware and the U.S. Patent & Trademark Officelast_img

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