back to article Microsoft mulls backside display for mobiles

Microsoft has considered mobiles with multiple screens. A recently granted patent shows plans for an additional low-power display on the rear of our devices. The concept sees an E Ink-like display integrated across the entire backside of future mobile hardware. This is said to give vendors an opportunity to free space on the …


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  1. Mark Fenton


    How the **** is this patentable? It is not a new concept - infact I had a mobile about 10yrs ago with 2 screens on it.

    1. The BigYin

      Re: Patent?

      Of course it's patentable. Yours was probably two LCD screens. This is e-Ink. Totally different.

      And low power. Totally and utterly different.

      It's even curved at the to. Totally, utterly and unbelievably different.

      How dare you suggest the the professionals at the USPTO give out patents for nothing. Just how very dare you! Why, that if attacking a vital organ of the capitalist system. Are you some kind of commie terrorist?

      1. andreas koch

        @ BigYin:

        Are you working for Apple?

  2. hplasm

    As a protective case

    This would probably last as long as a Kindle screen.

  3. Miek
    Thumb Down

    Why so irrelevant Microsoft?

    That's been done before by Samsung and Motorola with many models of flip-phones.

    1. dogged

      Re: Why so irrelevant Microsoft?

      Can you point me to a flip phone where the rear is one large e-ink screen configurable to display time, date or skinning info? I ask since that would be interesting and I have never seen one.

      Apparently, you have seen many, so perhaps you could offer a link?

      1. The BigYin

        Re: Why so irrelevant Microsoft?


        Picked at random: (this predates the patent claim by about a year)

        The e-ink screen is merely an implementation detail. If these are now patentable, then that is absurd.

        1. dogged

          Re: Why so irrelevant Microsoft?

          I agree about the absurdity of the patent application. However, I don't think I've seen the monolith phone done with a rear screen before which suggests that it is an innovation, however minor.

          Patentable? No. Not really. However, if used only as a self-defence patent - face it, some companies want to patent rectangles - then just about tolerable.

      2. Miek

        Re: Why so irrelevant Microsoft?

        It appears that I do not need to!

    2. Arrrggghh-otron

      Re: Why so irrelevant Microsoft?

      Ericsson had a mock up of a concept phone (before they were tainted by Sony) that did the same thing.

      Patents are bad, mmm'kay

  4. James 51

    My first phone from three was an LG flip phone that had an LCD display on the top. Very useful it was too. E-ink would be a step forward but don't see how it is patientable.

  5. bob 46

    eInk 2nd screen a good idea

    oohh, I like the idea of a dual screen if one of them is eInk! Watch the film, then flip it over and read the book!

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Not your screen

      Patent drawings should have had "Your Logo Here!" on them. Sounds like its the perfect gimmick to get adverts pushed onto the back of people's phones. I guess it may also mean another phone design with a non-replaceable battery.

  6. Captain Underpants

    Oh now WTF?!

    This is imagined as being low-power due to not refreshing very often - except that if it's used to display an accurate-to-the-minute clock then every minute the display will need to refresh. D'oh.

    Not to mention that when they tried this on laptops (with Vista's Sideshow tech) the market response was characterised by a tumbleweed, bouncing gently along. I'm not convinced that the same pointless idea applied to phones will be any more successful.

    1. dogged

      Re: Oh now WTF?!

      I looked for a Sideshow screen to add to an HTPC since now having to switch the telly on to play music would have been useful. There were none to be found. I guess it way more about OEM apathy than unworkability.

      However, on a laptop it was not a sensible idea - adding a scratchable surface to a laptop isn't practical.

    2. Silverburn

      Re: Oh now WTF?!

      Sideshow = some perfectly good scrap code some tech threw together in his spare time for a bit of fun...but then the marketing department thought they could monitize it.

      Perhaps if they went back to the developer and actually asked him what it was designed to do, they might be able to sell it afterall...

  7. Tom 35


    It would just be used to display ads at eye level to people around you every time your on a call.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ads?

      "He blows goats"

      "I have proof".

      1. Miek

        Re: Ads?

        Or a little bit of Rick-Rolling or something ;)

      2. Tom 35

        Re: Ads?

        Kick Me!

  8. MrXavia

    i like the idea, can't see how its patentable, there is plenty of prior art, and this is evolution due to technology becoming available, not an inovation.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Samsung done this years ago!

    Remember the Samsung E700 flip phone?

    Playing catch up as always M$!

  10. jestersbro

    Please explain!

    Would someone from a proper patentese legal background please explain to me how so many obviously non-innovative and previously seen ideas manage to get a patent in the US?

    I am utterly at a loss as how these things ever get past the patent clerks!

    Surely innovation and not prior art should be the driving factor here? How would a UK court be likely to decide on a patent like this? What countries around the world take a more pragmatic view and disallow such obviously floored decisions (ignoring China and the Middle East)?

    I'm a wee bit baffled THB.

    1. I think so I am?

      Re: Please explain!

      It probably the people they hire in the USA.

      A Uni mate of mine works for the UK patent office and has a BSc in Physics;

  11. Gordon 10

    Errmm - Re-inventing their Laptop idea

    Wasnt it MS who came up with a secondard display in the top of a laptop lid as a cunning ruse to sell more Win Mob licenses.

    This seems very similar - especially the bit about selling Win Mob/WinPho licenses :)

  12. jai

    i like it

    I very much like to idea of putting the status icons and time on the top of the case, in e-ink.

    Not sure about the time being backwards though, that'd take some getting used to - but perhaps they did that to make sure it wasn't confused with prior-art ?

  13. Keep Refrigerated

    Putting 2 screens together

    Does this mean I can patent my innovative idea of tacking a touchscreen monitor onto the side of a normal PC flatscreen monitor and sue for $MEGA when someone inevitably does it...?

    1. andreas koch


      if you can pay the lawyers...

  14. dssf


    The patent should NOT grant protection for the placement of dual screens on the phone. IIRC, I saw at least TWO dual-screen models of phones in Tokyo in 2004/2005. Can't recall whether they are Panasonic or Sanyo or Sharp. (Still scouring the net, unable to find them. Pissing me off because I keep in tin-foil-manner suspecting all such queries are suppressed. But, I must be mistaken.)

    Any patent should ONLY cover the e-ink thingy, and ONLY for the exact shape and size of display, and SHOULD NEVER, EVER preclude the manufacture of e-ink displays sized and adapted to phones, PDAs, wrist gadgets, etc. ONLY a design patent for the specific item in circulation in the free market should be protected. Otherwise, someone could go back and retroactively patent the existence of eyeglasses, automobile windscreens, pocket protectors, file organizers and even mailing envelopes. Imagine if planes, trains, bicycles, and the simple surfboard were patented and licensed by single individuals or companies...

  15. verity33

    If I had one (unlikely) I'd have an Apple on the back ;-}

  16. Snapper


    It's to post error messages! BSOD comes to mind.

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