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November 30, 2017

Google’s new patent will automatically open, close laptops with just a touch

by John_A

Chromebooks could eventually sport a lid that automatically opens and closes with the touch of a finger. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent last week filed by Google that does just that, and it could even detect the position of the users face to automatically adjust the lid/screen for the optimal viewing position. Thus, if laptop owners were to suddenly sit up straight in their chair, the lid would automatically adjust accordingly without any manual adjustments.

The patent describes a design that relies on several sensors. One would determine your proximity to the laptop, and activate the motor to raise the lid when you approach the device, such as sitting down in front of a desk where the laptop resides. Another sensor would detect the touch of a finger, and open the lid accordingly. Either way, an image sensor would be needed to determine your facial position so the motor can adjust the screen at the optimal viewing position.

The patent goes on to explain that the proximity sensor would require you to have a compatible device in possession that’s within communication range. This method is similar to using a smartphone to lock and unlock a PC via a Bluetooth connection when moving in close or away from the PC. In this case, the laptop would detect the smartphone, and automatically raise or shut the lid.

But Google’s patent goes beyond simply approaching the laptop from the front.

“Computer may include one or more sensors configured to function as a Near Field Communication (NFC) receiver, Bluetooth communication circuitry, or RFID transceiver/transponder,” the patent states. “The sensor may implement a technology capable of determining a user’s location in relation to the computer, for example, that the user is in front of the computer, or behind the computer, or to the side of the computer.”

Meanwhile, the touch-based sensor would support a specific region on the laptop’s lid. The patent’s diagrams show the area could be the size of a touchpad, and reside at the top end of the lid. This touch-sensitive area would wrap around the lip of the lid so all you would need to do is touch that edge to close the lid. Even more, this area could be configured to accept taps, full touches, swipes, and gestures.

But Google’s patent doesn’t focus on one specific list of components. The touch-sensitive surface could be based on any material that supports “a capacitive structure, surface acoustic wave, or a resistive structure.” Thus, the touch area wouldn’t necessarily be visually obvious on the lid. On the other hand, laptop makers could carve out an area on the lid to install a “dielectric surface.”

Finally, getting the lid to open and close on its own would rely on a motor residing within the base of the laptop that connects directly to the hinge. This design would be backed by “internal friction elements” to help deal with the weight of the lid as the motor opens and closes the notebook.

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