Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is working on a Smart Cover for its iPad with a flexible secondary display, according to a patent application first filed in August of last year with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The flexible display technology, Apple says, can be integrated into the flexible cover without changing the overall form factor of the device. And adding the flexible display into the cover “greatly enhances the overall functionality of the tablet device.”
The new Smart Cover would be powered by a connection on the surface of the hinge span, and like the current Smart Cover, would be attached magnetically. Data would pass bi-directionally over the same connection. The flexible display technology means the Smart Cover could still be folded, while also displaying different information separately on each of the individual Smart Cover panel segments.
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The images below, filed with the USPTO, indicate how the Smart Cover with flexible display technology could function. The cover could be used as a virtual keyboard, or an area for graphic design work. In video mode, the folded section of the Smart Cover exposed on the rear could be used to control media playback, or display content on the reverse side in landscape typing mode.
Apple has notoriously applied for patents many years before the technology appears in consumer devices, so there’s no reason to believe the new Smart Cover will make it to market any time soon. However, it would certainly give Apple’s iPad a leg-up on the competition, while simultaneously making redundant many peripherals made by third-party manufacturers, including many Bluetooth keyboards.
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The Smart Cover with flexible secondary display could be a serious game changer in the tablet space. It would certainly solve the problem of space — owners wouldn’t have to lug around a larger, heavier tablet, but would still have some of the benefits of a bigger screen.
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