Microsoft Granted Patent in the US for Foldable Device with Advanced 3D Audio Capabilities

We've seen Samsung tease its foldable display that will launch sometime next year but from out of nowhere, Microsoft has been granted a patent for a foldable device.


The next big thing when it comes to innovation in the smartphone arena is the move towards foldable devices. We’ve seen Samsung tease its foldable display that will launch sometime next year but from out of nowhere, Microsoft has been granted a patent for a foldable device.

We have heard of various OEM’s exploring the possibilities for foldable devices that would allow a larger screen to be placed on a device that collapses to up to half the size of the screen. This would see devices that could offer a tablet experience in a device the size of a smartphone.

Microsoft foldable device patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent for Microsoft that revealed a foldable device and possibly an insight into technology the company is considering implementing in future products. Not only does the patent reveal a foldable display but it also describes a device that is able to deliver and record a 3D audio experience equal or superior to that of ear headphones. The audio is specifically targeted at capturing 3D audio at concerts. This is complemented by a note that says the device will have “a camera to capture one or more face characteristics for customizing the binaural audio stream for a user.”

Microsoft describes the invention as utilizing a binaural recording method that records sound using two microphones in a spaced arrangement that creates a 3D stereo sound experience for the listener. The result is providing the listener an experience that appears as if they are actually in the room with the performers and instruments during the recording. Traditional computing devices having a singular microphone or dual microphones for stereo recording cannot achieve the 3-D stereo sound sensation of binaural recording.

The patent describing Microsoft’s invention shows a hinged device that includes a pair of headphones that approximate the user’s ear-to-ear spacing and orientation. The resultant recording may be processed and reproduced as a binaural stereo audio feed.

microsoft patent

The implementations describe a device comprised of an initial device including one microphone and the second device with a second microphone combined with a binaural processing module to receive audio input from the first microphone and the second microphone to generate a binaural audio stream. Patently Mobile describes how this would all connect together – “The second device component is pivotally connected to the first device component and the first microphone and the second microphone are each positioned at a location of the binaural computing device distal from the pivotal connection.”

Therefore, while on the surface the patent seems to provide competition for Samsung’s foldable device, the hinged device is a byproduct of trying to solve a different problem of binaural recording. The hinged design is simply a design that would provide a solution to the problem. “The method further comprises recording an audio stream from a first microphone within the first device component and a second microphone within the second device component onto the computing device. The method still further comprises conditioning the recorded audio stream to generate a binaural audio stream.”

Microsoft states that the hinged device could be a laptop, smartphone, or computer, so is consequently seemingly in a different use case entirely to where the Samsung foldable smartphone will sit when released.

It raises the question though if there is a consumer base requesting this kind of sound recording, but it may be useful for those audiophiles.