While I was hunting around for new and interesting patents, I of course found the dual screen patent I posted earlier. This was exciting since it could mark the return of the style of laptop we haven’t seen since the W700ds and W701ds. It could also mark a departure from an over-focus on thin and light where users might happily trade some weight for some additional features.


The Return of the Pull Out Screen (The W701ds Lives Again?)

The ThinkPad with two screens might live again in the discovery of a new patent application for a dual-screen laptop. The ThinkPad W700DS and W701DS are insane systems to behold for two reasons: They are one of the largest, working production ThinkPads out there. They have a pull-out screen for extra productivity. You can see […]

But it wasn’t the only patent I found that was interesting. It looks like Lenovo is freeing up some space inside their machines for a different kind of storage; a place for you to put some wireless earbuds or several other devices. You can see one of their ideas on how this would work in the patent drawing at the top of this article. The earbud version of this modular system has already been announced on a ThinkBook device but the rest of the items in the patent detail some devices that we have yet to see. Thanks to Twitter user Benni for pointing this out.

The patent shows some details on how they would fit inside and charge when the mechanism is closed. There are also some drawings of another potential storage method which are illustrated below (Figures 13A to 13C). But more importantly, at least to me, there are also some diagrams and claims about this storage bay being used for other devices such as lights, cameras or speakers (Figures 16A-16D). This is where things get really interesting. We have seen other companies like Framework explore modularity in laptop design, but that was limited to whatever fits in a very small space and ultimately needs to connect to a USB-C connector. The Lenovo patent seems to be using a similar USB-based solution but making an internal component rather than an external one.

The patent describes everything from cameras, biometric devices, SSDs, speakers and more being able to sit in the tray. It is clear they want to take advantage of the additional space they have created as other components get smaller.

One of the things I find curious is the willingness to make room for the feature as it probably means the laptop that houses this technology would need to be a minimum thickness to properly hold the earbuds or other items in question. 

What do you think of this idea? Is this something that you would use or seek out in your next laptop or do you think the effort might fall on deaf ears? I have to admit the idea of having a high-quality camera I can take out and use with my laptop intrigues me greatly. Let me know what you think by @ me on Twitter. As always, the patent document is below for your review and I will update this story as new information becomes available.


Crowdfunding has changed the way people create and experience technology. However, not all technological projects benefit from crowdfunding. Companies that choose to crowdfund tend not to have a lot of access to vendors and manufacturing long-term, so items are created on short lease contracts and in batches. In this article, I wanted to quickly describe some basic types of crowdfunding that I’ve self-defined in the hopes someone else might find it helpful.

One thing anyone considering crowdfunded projects needs to remember is: they are not a store and there is no guarantee that the product will be delivered. There is no recourse for the person providing the funds in 95% of situations and it remains the company’s choice on what they choose to do about bumps in the road.

Always remember that crowdfunding comes with risks and you should make decisions based on the evidence you have, not what you believe. That can be a tricky thing to differentiate between especially if you are really excited about something being offered.

All that being said, for sake of argument, crowdfunding in my mind fits into three broad categories.

Standalones: These are the projects that to me, crowdfunding does best. They work upon release and do not require additional support down the road. They don’t require consumables, servers or software updates to keep working the same way they first came out of the box.

An example is the Snoopa Vmate gimbal camera I backed earlier last year. While it has firmware updates and an app, it can be used directly from the camera, which should add to the lifespan of the device. Like several crowdfunded projects, I wouldn’t hope much for warranty issues or spare parts, but in the meantime, it was an expensive solution to get some unique shots I couldn’t otherwise get with my traditional camera setup.

Dependent: These are projects that I think are the highest risk. Beyond the initial launch of the product, they require additional infrastructure to function. That can be software updates or supplies that the company has to provide. The IoT movement has learned time and time again that your devices can become useless bricks if the update tap is turned off.

The Unihertz Titan that I backed a while ago had a variety of challenges on launch but managed to navigate most of them. Android 10 has been delayed rather significantly and while it has been released, can currently only be flashed manually or pushed to your device by request. Like any phone, its lifespan beyond the hardware will be dictated by the software updates and when they are cut off.

Independent: These are the projects that make a company sustainable. They might start out on crowdfunding sites, but due to success and a different business model, they break the mould and get access to continual manufacturing and can move into the big leagues.

Mobvoi comes to mind when I think about a company that has graduated from the crowdfunding platform. While I didn’t back their very first project, I did back the Ticwatch E and documented my time with it. Mobvoi has gone on to manufacture their own products independently from a crowdfunding platform. A version of the Ticwatch remains my daily driver for my smartwatch.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my ramblings on the subject and perhaps you will find it useful when you are deciding which project you might back next or if you want to back your first.