We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,258 News Articles

Microsoft dock to connect phone, printer & TV

Windows developer patents smartphone cradle

Microsoft has patented smartphone-docking technology that would allow the devices to connect to peripherals and networks similar to the way PCs do.

According to a filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Microsoft has patented a 'smart system' that includes a smartphone cradle that allows the device to interface to peripherals, networks and large video displays through a USB (Universal Serial Bus) connection.

Some of the peripherals the cradle would allow the smartphone to link up to include printers, TV screens, cameras, external storage devices and speakers, according to the patent, which Microsoft acquired on January 22.

See Mobile Advisor for smartphone reviews and news

For years Microsoft executives - particularly chairman Bill Gates, who is no longer on full-time duty at the company - have discussed publicly how PCs and smart devices are reaching an intersection, and how PC technology will be available in smaller and smaller devices.

The patent filing reflects this notion. "The cell phone is rapidly evolving into a smart communications device that can provide sufficient computing power and functionality to drive a wide variety of peripherals as well as access network services," according to the filing. "A major impediment to taking advantage of this evolving technology in the cell phone, for example, is the inability to connect the phone to peripheral devices and systems."

Apple's iPhone, introduced in mid-2007, was probably the first and best example of the intersection between PCs and smartphones; it's more like a mini-PC than a mobile phone. With devices based on the Windows Mobile OS that third parties sell, Microsoft also offers a similar hybrid of PC and smartphone.

Microsoft also released a Zune music and video player to compete with Apple's iPod, but the device has garnered only lukewarm customer interest, leaving the future of the product uncertain. Rumours claimed that Microsoft would unveil a combination Zune/Windows Mobile phone to rival iPhone at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month, but that did not happen.

IDG UK Sites

Very best Black Friday 2014 tech deals UK: Latest bargains on phones, tablets, laptops and more...

IDG UK Sites

Tech trends 2015: 3D printing grows up

IDG UK Sites

10 mind-blowing Oculus Rift experiments that reveal VR's practical potential

IDG UK Sites

Black Friday 2014 UK: Apple deals, Amazon deals & other Black Friday tech offers