The Microsoft’s applied sciences group creates a new Surface keyboard with a display to extend the tablet functionality. It’s known internally as the “DisplayCover” and it’s a concept accessory the company has been working on that extends the Surface display and functionality to the keyboard.
The DisplayCover combines a physical keyboard and a “thin film multi-touch display” that uses e-ink technology.
The display embedded in the keyboard extends the Surface display by functioning as a secondary Start menu to launch apps and it can also be used to enhance app functionality. For example, opening Photoshop toolbars will automatically appear in the e-ink display, a photo app can also display thumbnail previews, or the display can also function as handwriting and drawing input. In addition, since the keyboard’s display is multi-touch, it can work with gestures input to zoom in and out and more.
Another important aspect of the DisplayCover to note is that because it uses e-ink technology in the 1280 x 305 pixel resolution display, the accessory is likely not to reduce the battery life of the tablet. Additionally, the keyboard do not feature a trackpad as the space is being used by the new display.
While the accessory is unique the concept isn’t, we have seen before many keyboards featuring adapting functionality with similar technology.
The DisplayCover is just a concept at this time, there is not a release date or pricing. We don’t even know if the accessory will ever make it to the market or if it will only be available for Surface tablets or other computers as well. As such, it’s highly unlikely the company will launch the DisplayCover alongside the Surface Pro 4, which is due in October.