It’s not often that a concept which is completely new emerges in the field of laptops, but a freshly-granted Google patent points to an idea which certainly hasn’t been seen before – a notebook with a motorized lid which opens itself.
Your initial reaction is probably much the same as ours: is this just a rather gimmicky feature, or an accessibility feature that will only be of interest to people who find it difficult to lift the laptop lid when firing up their portable up?
But, looking beyond that initial reaction and digging deeper into the patent, this is actually a rather nifty idea which could change the whole way we interact with our laptops – or rather, the way our notebooks interact with us.
On a basic level, there’s something quite cool about a laptop which opens itself, of course. Google’s vision is for a ‘motorized hinge structure’ capable of both opening and closing the laptop lid, triggered by a touch-sensitive area on the surface of the lid. You just tap to open.
But it has more potential, as the patent (spotted by Patently Mobile) also describes sensors which detect where the user is in relation to the notebook. It also covers the possibility of having an image sensor (complete with facial recognition login capabilities) which can 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 last point is particularly interesting, with this potentially being a notebook that could adjust the display to maintain the best viewing angle for wherever the user happens to be (whether they lean back or forwards, and so forth).
The patent also discusses an alternative to touching the laptop lid to open it, namely the use of automatic detection of the user being in proximity to the machine triggering it opening and/or unlocking.
Similarly, when the user leaves the laptop, it could automatically close and/or lock. That would be a pretty major boon on the security front, particularly for forgetful types who may be prone to leaving their open notebook unattended.
The main potential downside here would be the fact that this is something else that could go wrong with your machine, and another point of potential mechanical failure – probably quite a substantial one by the sounds of things.
Of course, all this may come to nothing and it’s just a patent (originally filed at the end of 2013), but then again the next Pixelbook from Google (or a model further out in the future) could sport this motorized lid and the aforementioned tricks to boot.