Although Microsoft appears to be getting out the smartphone business, it's likely that they're simply exiting the Nokia styled smartphone business. It's been rumored for some time now that a Surface smartphone is in the making and ongoing IP filings from Microsoft on this front support such a future development. In this particular granted patent Microsoft reveals their work on 3D Touch, also known as Hovering technology, wherein a user is able to control a smartphone without having to actually touch the display. Other features that may found on a future Microsoft Surface smartphone is covered in today's report
3D Touch / Hover Interaction
Microsoft was granted a patent by the U.S. Patent Office in March regarding 3D Touch which is also known as Hover-based display interaction as noted in patent FIGS. 3C and 3D above.
Microsoft places emphasis in their patent background and several times in their patent that the invention relates to a smartphone. Microsoft references a "smart phone" 7 times and a tablet only once. So it's clear the invention is geared towards delivering 3D Touch for a future smartphone.
Microsoft's patent FIG. 3C noted above illustrates the front elevation view of the example computing device when an object is hovering in front of the display of the computing device; FIG. 3D illustrates the side elevation view of the example computing device showing a user's finger hovering over the display and not touching the display to control events on the display.
The Magnification Window Feature
The second aspect of this invention focuses on content delivering a new 'Magnification Window" that will allow a user to point at a section of text and be able to magnify the text without having to use a pinch-and-zoom gesture.
Specifically Microsoft notes that "the magnified window feature eliminates the steps required to pinch and zoom (and potentially pan) the content in order to find, read, and/or select content rendered on the display, saving the user time and eliminating frustration when browsing content. Upon finding an interesting portion of the content via the magnified window, the user may then have the ability to zoom to the portion of interest via a user input command.
Microsoft's patent FIG. 3E noted below illustrates the front elevation view of the example computing device when displaying a magnified window in a region of the display in response to a detected hover interaction from the object.
Pull Down Menus on Windows Smartphones
Microsoft's patent FIG. 11 noted above illustrates a partial front elevation view of the example computing device showing the object hovering over an interactive element on the display to cause performance of a display-related function in response to the hovering object.
More specifically, Microsoft's patent FIG. 11 illustrates a partial front elevation view of the computing device #102 showing the object #302 hovering over an interactive element (e.g., the menu text reading "Sports") on the display to cause performance of a display-related function in response to the hovering object.
Microsoft's patent FIG. 11 is illustrative of how the hover interface module may provide full mouse/pointer support for actionable content received by the browser module. That is, web browsers and other content-rendering applications may be implemented in a manner that provides "desktop parity" on a hover-capable device, such as the computing device. For example, a small form factor smart phone may provide full mouse support to enable hover events (e.g., W3C pointer events).
In the illustrative example of FIG. 11, an object 302 may be hovered over the "Sports" menu text, and the menu text may be modified (e.g., bolded, highlighted, etc.) and/or additional content (e.g., a sub-category drop-down menu) may be rendered similar to how it reacts to a cursor hovering over the actionable content on a desktop computer.
Microsoft's original patent was filed in Q3 2014 and granted in late March 2017.