On February 11th, Microsoft patented a new technology which would allow anyone, no matter their tech level, to upgrade their own PC. The technology is known as a “modular computing device,” and involves combining stackable components to simplify the modification of a PC. Basically, it allows users to combine various blocks to construct a personal computer according to their individual needs, and enables people to replace or upgrade components as they see fit instead of buying an entirely new device when looking to upgrade.
Modular devices have been part of the discussion by Microsoft for at least a couple of years, however, in July 2015, the company filed an application for the patent. According to recent information, the patent was submitted and published about a week ago. The device consists of one or more display components connected via wires and hinges to a housing containing memory drives and processors used to display the input data.
This new component system from Microsoft could be compared with Lego, as any fundamental part could easily be swapped out, or replaced, with newer versions.
However, the idea behind this technology is not quite as groundbreaking as you may think. Intel has long been working on laptop-based components which connect to particular boards with a minimum of cables.
Despite this fact, Microsoft has moved the concept much further than anybody else. They also introduced the idea of expanding the concept to areas outside of simply the PC. Microsoft modular devices may soon be available in the form of desktop computers, mobile stations, game consoles, wireless phones and so on.
What’s remarkable about the Microsoft PC component is that the display is actually a part of static construction, and stackable hardware then includes all the essential PC/laptop elements such as memory, hard drives, graphics card, battery, a WiFi module, and even speakers.
One of the main architects of the patent was also involved in the creation of the Microsoft Surface tablet. Microsoft has also shown an interest in modular hardware by releasing an Xbox One Elite with a modular controller. And in 2014, when Razer introduced Project Christine – the prototype of modular PC’s, with units attached to a vertical frame – Microsoft helped to promote the future device. Unfortunately, the technology is still yet to be released.
Despite the signals this patent sends, Microsoft has not yet indicated that they plan to implement modular hardware technology in the near future. At least, they have not commented so far.
The RenderThat team has taken it upon themselves to envision how this new Microsoft modular device would look, and created a prototype visualization based on the sketches presented by Microsoft themselves in the patent. Please take a look, and share your thoughts in comments!
RenderThat’s designer Bartosz has taken it upon themselves to envision how this new Microsoft modular device would look, and created a prototype visualization based on the sketches presented by Microsoft themselves in the patent. Please take a look, and share your thoughts in comments!