Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward

Microsoft Designs a Phone-Tablet You Can Fold Like Origami

January 17, 2017, 8:28 PM UTC
Microsoft Unveils New Devices Powered By Windows 10
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 06: Microsoft Corporate Vice President Panos Panay introduces a new tablet titled the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 at a media event for new Microsoft products on October 6, 2015 in New York City. Microsoft also unveiled a virtual reality head set titled the HoloLens, a phone titled the Lumia 950, a laptop titled the Surface Book and a biometrics wristband titled the Band 2. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton—Getty Images

Microsoft has applied for a patent on a foldable mobile device that morphs a phone into a tablet.

The design hinges on, well, a hinge. The computer employs a flexible joint that allows its display to contort into “a plurality of planar surfaces,” or various screen sizes, according to its patent application.

Microsoft’s (MSFT) filing entered the public domain on Monday, as first noted by the Microsoft-focused tech blog MSPoweruser. Initially submitted in October 2014, the patent is pending approval with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under application number US14515766.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

The patent application notes that people use different computers, depending on their dimensions, for different purposes. For instance, people will text and call with a smartphone, while relying on a tablet for other tasks, such as drafting emails and reading documents.

Instead of forcing consumers to make compromises—buying a “phablet” or purchasing more than one device—Microsoft aims to create an all-in-one device. The option would signal a new category of computers for consumers.

You can see these different ways of manipulating the device in the patent application’s accompanying images and diagrams.


“Open” hinge, aka tablet form, via patent application
Via patent application
“Closed” hinge, aka phone form, via patent application
Via patent application

Here are other views of the device’s possible origami-like configurations, per the application.

Microsoft phone tablet patent 3
“Phone” form via patent application
Microsoft phone tablet patent 4
“Tent” form via patent application

The designs recall Microsoft’s ill-fated Courier “booklet” device, which the company scrapped in April 2010 after infighting about its product strategy.

Though the plan is intriguing, it is worth noting that this is merely a patent for a conceptual model. Like its rivals, Microsoft files many patents each year, plenty of which are never turned into a product or incorporated into existing products.

Still, the application offers tantalizing hints about the kind of designs that Microsoft is mulling for future models of its Surface line.

Kabir Siddiqui, lead mechanical engineer at Microsoft and the phone-tablet’s inventor, has turned out designs for other products, such as the Surface kickstand, one of the device’s most iconic features, as tech blog The Verge notes.

For more on Microsoft, watch:

Microsoft is not the only company developing foldable computers. Samsung, the Korean electronics giant, is rumored to be experimenting with a bendable Galaxy device featuring a flexible screen. And reports have surfaced that Google (GOOG) and LG are working on designs of their own.