An interesting new patent by Apple detailing an iPad Smart Cover featuring a flexible touchscreen, keyboard and even possible portrait orientation capabilities was made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this morning. Apple applied for the patent in August 2011 and is still awaiting approval.
The filing, titled “Cover Attachment with Flexible Display,” details a Smart Cover that could be a direct extension of the iPad’s screen, obtaining data and power via a MagSafe-like magnetic connection.
There are a range of other options for power detailed, including RF energy collection antennas or even solar panels that could actually provide power to the tablet itself and not just the cover.
The application covers a variety of uses and possible materials for the new cover that would greatly enhance iPad functionality. Here it is shown providing display notifications and note taking without opening the iPad, described in the patent as using “flexible electronic paper displays…similar to the display technology used by standalone E-reader devices.”
It could also operate as an extension of the iPad controls while folded into a stand, showing off its touchscreen capabilities. There’s also a possible new hinge that will allow for angle adjustment while in stand mode.
Other illustrations show the space being utilized as a touch keyboard and as a drawing surface for a stylus, which would be pretty similar to Microsoft’s “Touch Cover” for the upcoming Surface tablets.
Any of these pictured enhancements would definitely be exciting improvements that would actually live up to the name Smart Cover, and they can count on me to be one of the first in line to buy it if it ever hits the market. However, as with all patents, there is no certainty that these ideas will actually see the light of day, but we can have hope!