Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group recently published news of a new prototype keyboard the company is working on called DisplayCover. The peripheral is designed for tablets and provides a “thin film” E-ink display with a resolution of 1280×305 pixels. Given this device is merely a prototype, there’s no telling when we’ll see the peripheral actually on the market.
This isn’t Microsoft’s first keyboard with a touch-sensitive display. Back in 2009, the Applied Sciences Group revealed the Microsoft Adaptive Keyboard, which featured a touch-sensitive display at the top of the peripheral and extended down underneath the keys. According to the company, users could display command icons and change the character set to a different language.
Now it’s 2015, and the company’s DisplayCover sets out to serve as a peripheral cover for touch-enabled tablets like Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 2. The company says the new E-ink “strip” extends the overall tablet display by up to eight percent—not a huge number in our book but the tech is neat nonetheless. The company chose E-ink technology because it doesn’t suck up battery juice quite like a full-color version.
“DisplayCover supports dynamic UI manipulation, concurrent access to multiple applications, stylus annotation, gestures and trackpad interactions on the horizontal plane,” the company says.
Microsoft’s blog demonstrates how the E-ink strip is used, including pulling two fingers in different directions to zoom in, using two fingers to move a window, and using one finger to hold a window while the other is pulled to the edge, allowing the user to rotate the screen. The panel can also be manipulated using a stylus, or serve as a trackpad, the latter of which emulates a notebook keyboard.
“DisplayCover extends the available screen real estate of tablet computers while mitigating occlusion issues associated with direct pen and touch input,” the blog adds.
To see this prototype tablet keyboard in action, check out the video below.
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