Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kindle News: Amazon gets a new patent for a dual-screen tablet (thanks TheDigitalReader for the info)

Remember this image and story, based on Dave Zatz's story in July 2011?

On July 9, 2011, I tweeted the seemingly unlikely but colorfully intriguing story given him by a "friend of the site" who had shared a flight with a third party describing himself as a highly placed Amazon employee, but I didn't blog it until August 12, 2011, explaining that while it seemed 'highly implausible' and even Zatz had said he considered it "far fetched," he told us to remember what he'd written on "Zatz Not Funny!" if it turned out to be true.

So, on  August 12, 2011, I did blog it because, as I wrote:
' BYTE's Gina Smith reports today that
"... several sources independently confirmed" dual screen technology, glass-on-glass, that would allow switching between an e-reading mode using e-Ink and a back-lit touch display, Android 3.1-based.  "Several sources added" that "It will be optimized for video streaming." '
They are fairly serious about this report, offering more details and a discussion of this in the current week's episode of BYTE Wireless Radio, which is playable in the center of the page.  They have a rep to sustain, so this is pretty interesting.  I've no idea about the quality of their sources. '

In that article, I gave instructions for accessing the radio discussion and where that specific topic starts.

What AppleInsider's mentioned analyst got right for last year's announcements
BYTE was wrong about the 10.1" dual-screen model being "purportedly pushed up for release this year." [2011 - and we know a 10" did not materialize and may not this time either although some say it may.]

  But on September 27, 2011, the day before the big announcements Sept 28, 2011, AppleInsider's Josh Ong wrote that Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had detailed three new products expected to be announced the next day, and he was the only one to get the information on the two new Kindle Touch devices (w/ and w/o 3G) and even had the pricing very close.  So he did have good info.

Why is that particularly interesting at this point?
What interested me also was that besides saying the 10.1" device was expected in early 2012 (now it's late 2012 and it's not here yet), Kuo ALSO mentioned that Amazon was "also reported preparing an 8.9-inch tablet with an "amazing form factor"..." [and what would be an amazing form factor?] "for release in the second half of 2012, though suppliers are said to be having a tough time meeting Amazon's requirements for the device."

  Yes, the dual-screen would be an amazing form factor, but there's been NO HINT of this for this year in all the rumors we've read...

  Until today - when Nate Hoffelder reported that Amazon has received a new patent for a Dual Screen Tablet
That's right At his The Digital Reader site Nate reports that Amazon received a new patent for a dual screen tablet.
An electronic device including two or more display elements can provide enhanced functionality with improved rates of power consumption.  A user can cause information that does not change rapidly to be provided or moved to a relatively static display element, such as an electronic ink display, which enables that information to be displayed for a period of time with little additional power consumption.  Similarly, content (e.g., video) that changes rapidly can be displayed on a relatively dynamic display element, such as and LCD or OLED display.

  Each display can be touch sensitive, such that a user can move content between the displays by pressing on, or making a motion in contact with, at least one of the displays. Various modes can be activated which cause certain types of content to be displayed on the dynamic and/or static display element. '

The first point or Claim of 25 in those docs:
' 1. A computer-implemented method of displaying content on an electronic device, comprising: under control of one or more computing systems configured with executable instructions, determining a mode of operation for the electronic device, the electronic device including first and second display screens on opposing sides of the electronic device, the first display screen having a faster refresh rate than the second display screen, each display screen comprising a touch-sensitive material enabling input through contact applied to the touch-sensitive material; based at least in part upon the determined mode of operation, determining whether to display content on the first or the second display screen; and in response to a user contacting at least a portion of the content displayed according to a predetermined type of contact, causing at least the portion of the content to be displayed on the other of the first or second display screen, wherein the electronic device is configured to selectively display content on the first or second display screen, and wherein a user of the electronic device is able to move content between the first and second display screens. '

The graphics are linked in those docs via quicktime, but my Chrome and IE are not seeing them for some reason.

As Nate writes,
  "The thing about patents is that companies usually only receive them after the related device is on the market. Filing for a patent usually takes years (the average is 7+ years), and working the bugs out of a device can almost always be done faster.  Of course, that rule might not apply in this case; Amazon only applied for this patent last February and they got it today. That is exceptional turnaround."

  Now, no one wants to get expectations abnormally high, and we have received not one hint that a device like this is even nearly ready.  While I'd love a surprise like that, it's far more likely that we'll get an enhanced Kindle Fire 2, 7" and maybe even a larger Kindle Fire tablet, but I would not bet on anything more complex at this point.

  But Nate drew attention to it and I have too because this form factor was said to be an active project last year and we'd both drawn skeptical attention to it, and at least something like this may be closer (even early 2013 or very late 2012) than anyone could think except that no one except Dave Zatz was thinking about it !

And, yes, the first thing I think of is how heavy it might be.  Again, this is not a prediction for the press conference, but it's an interesting development with Amazon and something they've obviously given a good deal of thought and is certainly possible sometime in the (near? more likely far? ) future.

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