The US Patent and Trademark Office recently published a patent submitted by Microsoft that indicates the firm is developing a multi-screen mobile device that will be used for making video calls.

The patent’s title is “Three-way video calling on hinged multi-screen device”. Microsoft’s video calling service, Skype, was recently given a significant overhaul and is getting new features like call recording, so the firm appears to be quite committed to the future of video calling.

Windows Latest uncovered the patent, which may be for a large-screened device like a laptop, and would essentially allow users to broadcast two video streams from a single device during a call.

The patent reveals that the device will offer two displays, each of which will boast a camera. It’s believed that the device will show images captured by cameras on both screens and simultaneously show an image coming from a remote computer – perhaps a person using Skype to make a video call from a different location.

This type of device could be developed with the aim of facilitating three-way video calls, which are notoriously tricky with the technology currently available. The patent says that users will be able to interact with the mobile devices in many different positions, such as by holding them toward them, vertically, and in other orientations.

Group video calls could become easier

Such a device would make it easier for multiple people to carry out a video call from the same place. For example, a family that is trying to catch up with grandparents living abroad won’t all have to try to squeeze into the frame of their phone’s camera; instead, they would be able to sit comfortably in front of the different cameras that make up the device.

The language of the patent makes the intent clear: “Conventionally, it may be difficult for users in the same physical space to be part of a video call when they are not in proximity to one another, especially when there are three or more participants.”

While it’s important to keep in mind that the filing of a patent does not necessarily mean that we can expect to see such a device on the market any time soon – or ever – it does seem to fit in with Microsoft’s recent emphasis on providing better video calling experiences.

Last year, Apple patented a similar design for an iPhone variation with a hinged design that could allow it to be folded similar to clamshell mobiles.

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.