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.
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.