While Apple, Asus, Lenovo, et al, are looking at designing the best single screen tablet, Amazon has been thinking outside the box. Today they filed for
received a new patent for a dual screen tablet.
As you can see from the diagram above, the concept device has a screen on both the front and the back. Now that's relatively novel; past dual screen tablets like the Entourage Edge, original Nook, or the SpringDesign Alex had the screens side by side so the user can see both of them. While that offered more screen real estate it also led to a bulkier device which sometimes took up more space than desired, particularly when you're only using one of the screens.
Amazon's concept also has a pair of cameras, a mike, and g-sensor. It's not clear from the filings exactly how you would use the device (other than the obvious details) but I bet Amazon has put some thought into it.
What I find most interesting about this patent is how closely it fits a rumor I heard last year. According to an unnamed source, Amazon was working on a dual screen tablet, a device with an E-ink and an LCD screen. I didn't think the rumor was real at the time, but it does agree with this patent to a surprising degree.
So it looks like Amazon really did have a prototype dual sided dual screen device in their labs last July. Who knows, that could be the Kindle Fire which will be unveiled next week.
That's actually not such a wild supposition. The FCC paper has suggested that the new KF2 is a slab style device without a hinge. The demo diagram above shows a device with a screen on the front and the back. They could be the same device - if not for the placement of the FCC label in the middle of the back of the device. That kinda kills the possibility that there's an extra screen.
Still, this is an interesting patent. It's also Amazon's second patent for a dual screen device; the first covered the original Kindle, and we all know how that turned out. But unlike that earlier patent I don't expect to see this device hit the market.
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.
Then again, if Amazon really were planning to release this device they would likely have stalled on the paperwork so as not to leak details.
Update: According to a reader I misread the paperwork. It looks like Amazon doesn't have the patent yet; the reason we saw the filing yesterday was that Amazon chose to have it revealed to the public, not because the patent was awarded. So I guess I was right; Amazon probably isn't going to make this device.