A sketch of the new Microsoft 2-in-1 foldable device.

Published: January 16th, 2017

A mobile device that can transform from a phone to a tablet in seconds might sound like science fiction, but could be on its way to market soon, courtesy of Microsoft Corp.

Resembling the near-future technology of HBO’s Westworld, the company’s patent for a two-in-one foldable device went public today, according to MSPoweruser.com.

Notes accompanying the patent describe a device with several housings, a flexible display and flexible hinge structure that “secures the plurality of housings to each other, permits the plurality of housings to rotate about an axis in relation to each other; and supports a continuous viewing area of the display device that extends across the plurality of housings and flexible hinge structure.”

In less technical terms, the patent is for a large smartphone-like device that comes with either two or three screens which can be kept folded up neatly, bent into a tent-like freestanding shape, or extended out flat into a tablet. The patent included several sketches of the proposed device, included below.

A view of the device’s hinge, which allows it to extend into a tablet or fold up into a smartphone.
The device open as a tablet, and closed as a smartphone.
A look at the device folded as a smartphone and into a tent-like structure. The bottom right image also shows what the device would look like with three screens folded into a tent shape.

While Microsoft files thousands of patents every year, what makes this one special is the fact that its listed inventor is Kabir Siddiqui, who also holds patents for Microsoft’s Surface kickstand and Surface camera angle.

There have also been rumours in the tech industry that Microsoft is looking to create a Surface Phone, and since most of its Surface products avoid traditional forms, this patent could prove to be a revolutionary new phone design that also allows it to be something more as well, according to U.S. tech site The Verge.

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