What in blue blazes! If you needed more proof that Microsoft wants to keep the Surface Pen an essential part of its Surface experience, then look no further.
There is talk that the company is thinking about integrating a small touch display on the stylus itself that will serve very much like the Touch Bar on Apple MacBook devices. The screen will adapt to different applications and provide options accordingly.
Things are in the very early stages right now, but you can glean some details here.
The patent is called Dynamic Interaction Adaption of a Digital Inking Device, and you can find out how it works here in this document.
In particular, the Abstract section of the patent provides us with a closer look at how the display can work on a Surface Pen:
“A digital inking device can automatically adapt its interaction modality to provide contextually relevant status information and contextually relevant user interface control elements based on a user’s activity. An interaction model of a digital inking device can automatically adapt the display of particular control user interface control elements and particular status indicators based on one or more factors.
For example, a digital inking device can select an interaction model from a number of interaction models based on a way a digital inking device is held by a user, a fingerprint of a user, an angle and/or distance of a digital inking device with respect to a paired computer, a particular grip a user has on a digital inking device, an amount of pressure that is used to hold a digital inking device, a contact pressure between a digital inking device and a paired computer, and/or one more gestures performed by a user.”
Let’s take some real-world examples to better illustrate this point.
For example, if you are browsing the web, the display can serve as a launcher for your installed apps and also highlight notifications from emails or messaging software.
But when you are drawing or writing with a pen, the screen can change and show options like colors and additional brushes, or let you adjust thickness. What is displayed on the touchscreen will essentially change with what you are doing. And this sure does sound sweet if Microsoft can nail the functionality.
Of course, the keyword here being the functionality.
Patents are solid evidence, but they are by no means confirmation that users are indeed getting something new. The only way this comes to the market is if Microsoft thinks that this is actually something that can work.
Only then will we get the greenlight.
But one can dream!