Apple Smart Cover with touch and display development revealed

Aug 2, 2012
Apple Smart Cover with touch and display development revealed

Apple is working on making the iPad Smart Cover live up to its billing, considering fitting a flexible display and touch-input system to the case according to a newly published patent filing. The concept would turn at least one of the spines of the Smart Cover into a display strip, used to expand the working space of the tablet's screen and potentially including touch-sensitive controls to navigate media playback and other features without interrupting the currently active app.

The new Smart Cover would attach via magnets as now, but also include a data and power connection similar to the MagSafe socket on MacBook computers. Apple's application explores various combinations of functionality, from a single strip to all four of the panels being digitally-enabled.

That could mean the Smart Cover could be turned into a keyboard or even, as Apple's diagram below suggests, a combo keyboard and touchscreen. We've seen similar from Microsoft with the Surface keyboard cover, but Apple's system would go on stage further by implementing a flexible display, too.

Alternatively, the whole inner panel could respond to touch input, turning it into a digital sketchpad of sorts. Those panels might not actually flex to hold the iPad upright, instead having a stiffened keyboard section and a separate folding element to prop the tablet up at a more usable angle.

Of course, patent applications do not necessarily lead to commercial applications of technology, but even if it was limited to touch controls only this seems like a reasonable direction for Apple to go in. We've already seen flexible e-paper, such as from Plastic Logic, which would add little to the iPad's power consumption but still be capable of color images and refresh rates suited to video playback.

[via Engadget]

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