The stylus is an integral part of Microsoft’s vision for tablet computing, such that it is nearly always bundled with a Surface device, unlike the keyboard for example.
Storage of the pen has however presented a challenge for some time. Microsoft wishes to maintain the size and diameter of the stylus to make it easy to use and prevent hand cramping, but that makes the stylus too thick to easily stow in the body of the tablet without compromising its design.
Samsung’s solution has been a toothpick stylus which ignores the ergonomic issue, while Microsoft has elected for magnetic clamps or the SurfacePen Loop.
Now in a new patent, Microsoft has revealed some thoughts which would allow a thick stylus to be stored in the slim body of a Surface tablet without compromising its design.
The patentSTYLUS WITH AN ADJUSTABLE DIMENSION filed March 2017 offers 3 ideas to achieve this goal.
The first (above) would compromise to bow-like half shells on the same axis which in one position would have a reduced thickness but which when rotated would form a full-diameter pen.
The second would divide a pen vertically into two semi-circles attached at the edge by a hinge which in the open position would present half the thickness of a pen and when closed would offer a full diameter pen, optionally held closed by magnets.
The last would have a half-shell attached to the centre of the pen which itself was also only half a cylinder, which could then be rotated around the central axis to form a full thickness pen.
All three designs seem rather fiddly, so we are not sure they would ever get to the market, but they do suggest Microsoft is continuing to think of ways to refine their Surface Pen and promote its use.
The full patent can be read here.