Microsoft tests Surface tablet keyboard cover with built-in e-ink display



A video posted on the YouTube page of Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group shows a prototype keyboard cover with an e-ink display. The so-called DisplayCover, first spotted by, get this, Patently Apple yesterday, updates dynamically based on which application is in use and allows users to manipulate their device with multi-touch gestures.

In the demo video, the mini-screen shows Windows’ distinctive live tiles when on the desktop, but switches to popular tools when the user launches Photoshop. The screen also lets users zoom and pan around maps, scroll through picture previews and use styli to write in a more comfortable position when using a Surface in the upright laptop mode.

The Applied Sciences Group even built an email client that works completely inside the tiny screen, meaning you can carry on a Skype conversation or watch a video without overlaying an email composition window.

The prototype in the video doesn’t look close to a consumer-ready device, with wires sticking out all over the place and a thick chassis to hold the prototype hardware. It also didn’t appear to hook up to the port that other Surface covers use to connect to the tablet computer.

The most notable difference between the DisplayCover and other covers is the lack of a trackpad. The whole keyboard is shifted down to account for the new screen, covering the spot that normally houses the multitouch trackpad. Unless Microsoft wants to make a cover that extends beyond the edge of the Surface when folded up, they won’t be able to fit a traditional trackpad on the DisplayCover.

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