Before you get too excited, I’m kind of reaching for the stars on this one. Long story short, Google files patent applications all the time and this is just one of countless designs to come out of Mountain View in the past few years.
This particular patent was unearthed by, of all places, Patently Apple which is a site dedicated to “celebrating Apple’s spirit of invention.” They do cover a lot of non-Appley stuff and it’s a very interesting site if you’re into emerging and future technologies.
A portable computer that has a motorized hinge structure capable of moving the lid between an open and closed position. The movement of the lid is based on input from a plurality of sensors. One sensor may be configured to determine whether the user is within a predetermined threshold distance. Another sensor may be capable of detecting whether the user has made direct contact with the laptop. In one embodiment, the computer may have an image sensor configured to detect the user’s face and continuously adjust the angle and position of the lid to keep the face in the field of view of the camera and/or keep the lid in the optimum viewing position.
The patent in question filed back in October of 2013, was granted just this past week and diagrams a laptop that will open on its own using motorized hinges that are activated by user touch. The dialogue goes on to describe image sensors that detect a user’s presence within a certain criterion.
The sensors will then report to the processor and the motorized hinges will open the lid of the device to the optimum view angle in relation to the user.
The laptop will reportedly use ambient light sensors to determine if the device has been moved to a storage location such as a computer bag or backpack, thus disabling the feature. Additionally, accelerometers will be used to determine if the device is in motion and will likewise prevent the lid from opening.
As I first stated, I’m reaching for the stars in regards to this being a feature on a future iteration of the Pixelbook. This patent was submitted over four years ago before the Chromebook Pixel 2015 was even in development. Google very well may have intended this for a future device that never was.
However, Google has embraced the hardware path and evolving the #madebygoogle brand will likely be at the top of the “what’s next” list. Being that the Pixelbook and other Google endeavors often aim to cut a path in the wilderness, a feature like this would be a first in an ever-expanding ecosystem of computers.
Facial recognition on personal devices is becoming more common in mobile devices as well as operating systems like Windows. Bringing that functionality to laptop hardware isn’t so much a matter of “if” as it is “when.”
Will we see a Google Pixelbook with automated hinges? Your guess is as good as mine but I’d wager to say we will see this patented feature at some point in the not-so-distant future.
Source: Patently Apple