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The Future of Smart Cover: Built-in Display

The iPad and its Smart Cover changed our lives. That’s a fact. With an iPad we now have a portable media consumption tool, as well as a gaming, word processing, social networking, video editing and conferencing tool. However, there is always room for improvement, and because Apple wants to break into the business market, the iPad needs a significant expansion in functionality. And this is exactly what its latest patent is about.

Smart Cover iPad
If you’ve used an iPad I’m absolutely sure you have tried or own a Smart Cover. However, in its current form, the Smart Cover has only one functionality: protecting your iPad’s screen. And this is where Apple’s patent blows your mind: the future of the Smart Cover is to become another display. Isn’t that amazing? The most wonderful part is this will be a flexible display to present visual information.

But Apple doesn’t stop there: its innovation goes toward transforming our passive accessories into active ones. The Smart Cover will become your keyboard, your second screen and everything else to boost your productivity. But wait: isn’t that familiar? Yeah, it’s the Microsoft Surface’s Touch Cover. However, I haven’t seen a patent submitted by Microsoft yet, while Apple submitted this in early 2011. Now the question remains: who invented what?

There are certain challenges in attaching a second multifunctional display to the iPad and a power source is one of them. Fortunately, Apple’s innovation has several options against this roadblock. First, batteries can be placed in the Smart Cover. Okay, but what kind of batteries? If you remember, Apple filed for several patents targeting solar panels and its innovative work has results: in this patent, your Smart Cover will contain solar panels.

Secondly, the communication: how does the new Smart Cover communicate with the iPad? There are a couple options: wireless or wired communication, DisplayPort, DVI or Thunderbolt. But the final answer is another, custom MagSafe-like connector, which could secure data transfers as well as a power supply from the iPad itself. Wired data removes any security concerns associated with wireless data transfer.

You know, it’s amazing to see how Apple’s engineers come up with solutions that make the iPad more portable and indispensable than its competitors. With a second display incorporated into the solar powered Smart Cover, a new dimension opens. You can watch two documents side-by-side, which is pretty cumbersome now. It’s like you open a book and you can view both the even and odd pages.

Interestingly, the Smart Cover would implement a (flexible) AMOLED display. While this sounds odd at first, this has a reasonable, technical explanation: current LCD displays need to be lit up entirely, while AMOLED displays have the option to light up only single pixels. As a result of this, AMOLED displays can conserve the tablet’s power supply.

With this technology in mind, the possibilities are endless: you can use the iPad’s Smart Cover as a keyboard, just like Microsoft has shown with its Surface tablet, or it can work as a work surface, which is compatible with a Smart Pen. Beyond these two possibilities, the Smart Cover can become your notification board, your flexible iPad Stand with the advantage of displaying information to those who stand in front of you, but it is also good for gaming and other applications. In other words, the future is now. [Via Patently Apple]

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