Google’s Chromebook lineup may soon sport lids with touch surfaces that can open the lid automatically, as well as a user detection system that can help keep the screen lined up at the perfect viewing angle. The patent seems to show a Google Pixelbook that’s been modified with a touchpad on the lid. When the user touches that surface, presumably in a certain way so as to prevent accidental opening, it’s supposed to open the laptop. From there, a camera or array of cameras on the front takes over, figuring out where a user’s face is and opening the laptop to the best possible angle. This behavior is continuous, and adjusts the lid as long as the laptop is in use.
According to Patently Apple, the feature depicted in this patent may have a few extra bells and whistles. The opening mechanism, for example, could have an integrated fingerprint sensor or a nearby camera array that locks the laptop’s lid and won’t let it open until the laptop satisfactorily determines that an authorized user is the one trying to get into the laptop. Interestingly, Patently Apple points out that the patent in question actually makes constant references to a co-processor of sorts that will handle these functions independently of the main application processor. This not only means that these functions won’t weigh on the computer’s functionality or wear down battery life too terribly, but also that they could be used when the laptop is powered off, or perhaps even flashed with an operating system besides Chrome OS.
Google was only recently granted this patent, so it likely won’t show up in any products for a while. Since Google has the patent, the feature may end up being exclusive to its Pixelbook lineup, or it could end up sharing the feature with Chromebook partners. Doling out licenses to use this patent on laptops running other OSes is a possibility, but is highly unlikely. This feature may also appear on laptops running Google’s in-development Fuchsia OS, since running it on other computers would require heavy modification to the base software stacks of already mostly mature OSes and kernels.