Earlier this month the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Microsoft that reveals their work on a rechargeable Surface Pen and dock. Today the Surface Pen works with either a triple A or button cell battery. Yet that's about to change. Microsoft notes in their new filing that "a stylus may provide active functionality that is powered by a rechargeable battery. A charging circuit within the stylus may provide charging current for recharging the battery via one or more terminals configured to contact charging contacts of an associated stylus charger."
Microsoft further notes that "As a stylus may be easily misplaced due to the typical size and shape of the stylus (e.g., a thin, rod-like shape with at least one tapered end), the stylus charger may take the form of a dock that holds the stylus in a particular location during charging and/or while the stylus is not being used.
In the examples illustrated below, the stylus includes at least one terminal of the charging circuit that is formed from a deposit of ferromagnetic material on an exterior of the stylus body. Including a magnetically-attractable element that also serves as a charging terminal enables the terminal to be aligned to a charging contact of the dock and secured to the dock against gravitational pull and other forces via magnetic attraction to a permanent magnet of the dock."
In Microsoft's patent FIG. 7 we're able to see an example electronic and magnetic relationship between a stylus and a dock of an example stylus charging system #100. For example, terminal 110a of the stylus may be a ferromagnetic terminal configured to be magnetically attracted to permanent magnets 114a and 114b via magnetic force 702a and 702b, respectively.
The magnetic force between terminal 110a and permanent magnets 114a and 114b serve to urge the stylus into a docked position as the stylus nears the dock #104. Due to the positioning of the permanent magnets on either side of a charging contact, upon being pulled into contact with the magnets, ferromagnetic terminal 110a will also contact charging contact 112a to provide the electrical connection illustrated by dashed line 704a.
As the charging contact may be spring-loaded and biased to extend above the permanent magnets, the ferromagnetic terminal 110a will contact the charging contact before contacting the permanent magnets. The magnetic force between ferromagnetic terminal 110a and permanent magnets 114a and 114b is strong enough to overcome the bias of the spring-loaded charging contacts and cause the ferromagnetic terminal to depress the charging contacts to come into face-sharing contact with the permanent magnets. The bias of the spring-loaded charging contacts urges the contact toward the terminal of the stylus during docking, thereby ensuring secure uninterrupted electrical contact while the stylus is docked.
Patent FIG. 8 noted above simply shows an example docked position of the stylus within the dock of stylus charging system 100. As illustrated, the stylus is seated within a depressed region of the dock. In this way, the terminals of the stylus are in electrical contact with respective charging contacts of the dock in the manner presented in patent FIG. 7.
It should be noted that both patent figures 7 and 8 show an open end construction on the right end of the dock which might suggest that the dock will be built into some part of their hardware. For instance, the dynamic fulcrum hinge has been criticized for not closely the notebook flat. Yet this would be the ideal spot to place a new Surface Book rechargeable pen dock; right in the fold as you could clearly see in the illustration below. The patent filing never claims that the dock is a 'standalone' device.
Microsoft filed their patent application back in June 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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