Microsoft DisplayCover Would Add Second Screen and Keyboard to Surface Tablets

by Reads (1,269)

Researchers at Microsoft have proposed the DisplayCover, an accessory which would include both a keyboard and a small touchscreen that can be used to interact with applications running on a Surface tablet.

Microsoft DisplayCover

Microsoft DisplayCover

The secondary screen would be a thinfilm e-ink display with a resolution of 1280 x 305 pixels that’s the same width as the keyboard. If used with a Surface Pro 2, it would increase the size of the available screen real estate by 8%. The e-ink display would use very little power.

The idea of the Microsoft Applied Sciences Group is that the DisplayCover would make room to show controls that have to be hidden to save space on the tablet’s regular screen. For example, when the Windows Desktop is being shown the icons normally in the Start Menu would appear on the secondary screen. Or when working in an application, some of the most frequently used commands would be always be available just above the keyboard.

In addition, the researchers envision an email app capable of running entirely on this accessory, so that the main screen can be completely devoted to other tasks.

The DisplayCover would be controlled with fingetips or a stylus pen, and would support gestures, handwriting recognition, and would take the place of the trackpad normally found on Surface keyboards.

This accessory exists now only as a prototype, and Microsoft has made no promises about offering it for sale.



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  1. ChrisStevens

    I would like to see this with a Bluetooth or wifi connection so it can be used when disconnected from the Surface. Great for drawing (Art or Drafting) applications.

  2. jay.mackey

    This is pretty cool, but I don’t think I’d have a great use-case for it. When I’m at my desk, I use a connected HDMI monitor, USB mouse and keyboard, and that screen wouldn’t be close to my hands. The surface becomes a secondary screen then. This is how I worked with my Dell Inspirion before the SP2. When I’m in tablet mode, the keyboard is not present. I have an app that acts like this little display though that only works with finger touch. So it overlays your app menu bar, and you can finger-touch its buttons, but when you mouse or pen cursor up to the menu bar, the app disappears to let you use the menu bar. Works great. You can customize what the app shows and where it resides on your screen for each application that you want to use it with, and it can control keyboard actions, such as toggling ON the space bar as if you were holding it down while performing some pen action on screen.

    If this cover was also a power cover with extra battery, I’d buy it instead of the standard power cover, though.