The computer has been changed and improved so many times in recent years that we have come to expect changes each year now. Yet the keyboard, an essential component, has remained static despite all the changes. Many major players are now looking to reinvent the keyboard with existing technology such as E Ink. For example, the InkCase gives your iPhone a secondary screen by adding an E Ink display at the back of your iPhone!
As such, a series of smart keyboards have entered the market such as those offered by Microsoft and Lenovo Yoga Book’s Halo Keyboard. Microsoft is pushing ahead of its competitors with its latest patent showcasing an E Ink keyboard cover.
What is it?
Filed in September, the patent shows a device that includes a normal emissive display and an E Ink display which covers the usual display. It also doubles as an actual cover case. Of course, the E Ink display in itself is not new. The crux of the patent lies in how the two displays work together.
The Yoga Book has a static display not etched out on the keyboard. Users can change content accordingly. However, Microsoft’s patent showcases how the display can be used for, beyond touch input. This addresses one of the complaints regarding the unchanging nature of the Yoga Book’s keyboard.
The real hook is a feature similar to MacBook’s TouchBar feature. The regular screen will be situated near the E Ink display which will show controls. The ‘TouchBar’ detailed in the patent is on the emissive side of the device and is not really considered as part of the keyboard.
With all that said, keep in mind that this is still just a patent. It is more than likely that Microsoft would take a few years to bring this into the market. Stay hopeful though; most of the technology needed to realise the patent is already available! In fact, the cancelled Microsoft Courier is rather similar. So keep your fingers crossed!