Why Is This Significant?
Laptops have been an essential component of people’s working lives for almost two decades now, and shows all signs of being an indispensable part of office work for the forseeable future. They started as a less heavy and clunky alternative to desktops. Over time, manufacturers have focused on making laptops sleeker, lighter and more portable. A natural offshoot of this trend is the convertible, multi-foldable laptop.
Samsung filed a WIPO Patent for a ‘Multifoldable Electronic Device’ (International Application No. PCT /KR2021/008451) on July 13th 2021 and it’s been published officially on January 13, 2022. Our focus right now is to understand the know-how of this patent and its characteristic features.
In simple words, the design is essentially a convertible laptop with a detachable screen. The Patent talks about the aligning the processor to the left, with the remaining parts on the right. The laptop comes with a flexible screen. The upper half of the device (the foldable display) has a conventional aspect ratio when unfolded, and it connects to the lower half through a couple of hinges.
A major variation from an ordinary laptop is the screen. The flexible screen features a ‘crease’ that runs across the panel, perpendicular to the bottom half of the unfolded device. Combined with the division in the bottom half of the laptop, this feature enables users to fold the entire device twice.
The lower (keyboard/input) is not foldable as much as two separate surfaces hinged togetehr. According to the schematic diagram, the space bar breaks into two when the trackpad travels to the right. When split, each half carries its own battery and input circuits. Only one of these halves has the processor and the micro-controller.
According to the Patent, this invention is confined not just to a laptop. It can be any electronic device performing a specific function according to a loaded program, such as an electronic notebook, a portable multimedia player, a mobile communication terminal, a tablet PC, an image/sound device, a desktop/laptop computer, a car navigation system, etc. This means the device is described as a combination of three housings (a housing is an exterior case or enclosure used to protect an interior mechanism, embodied here in two keybord/input sections and one display section) and four surfaces. The 0-360 degree hinges are an essential part of the design functionality. Finally, in order to avoid unintentional unfolding, Samsung has included a clip slides from beneath the laptop and clamps onto the device once it is fully folded.
There are many immediate advantages to this design. It makes an essential electronic device very compact and portable to modern users. In addition, the upper half could be easily used without the physical keyboard attachment (as if it were a tablet), which gives added advantage to the users. Of course, the price is likely to be very high at the initial stages, but it may likely go down in the future if the design becomes more popular.
Author: Purushothaman R, Legal Intern at PA Legal.
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