Microsoft hopes to finally topple Apple with trippy robot butterfly

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It’s easy to poke fun at Microsoft when it comes up with its own knockoff version of an Apple’s long-awaited iWatch, iPad, iPhone, iPod, or pretty much any other innovation in the company’s history. However, when it comes up with its own ideas, it kind of makes us think that “thinking different” isn’t really in Microsoft’s DNA at all.

According to a recently filed patent application, Redmond’s latest Apple slaying idea is for something Apple hasn’t expressed any apparent interest in: a mood changing/health device in the form of a robotic butterfly. Yes, really.

Were it to be put into action, the Microsoft butterfly would determine the mood of Windows Phone or smartwatch users and then attempt to improve it by altering its flying patterns. If a user is calm, the butterfly would gently hover, while a larger flap of the wings could visually mirror the fact that a user is stressed, excited, or nervous. (Because nothing de-stresses a person quicker than a fly frantically buzzing around their room.)

The idea is that users would then pick up on the device’s cues about their own mood and respond accordingly — so a stressed user may be prompted to go out and have a walk, while a calm user could be further calmed.

It all sounds, frankly, bizarre, and the stuff of oddball rumor unless this patent application had shown up.

As it is, I’d still guess that we’re unlikely to see a robotic butterfly by Microsoft any time soon, but it certainly shows that Microsoft are trying to think out of the box when it comes to their next breakout product.

Maybe best to head back to the drawing board on this occasion, though?

  • Ruben Medrano

    Yeah, they can have that one.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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