Microsoft's Applied Sciences group, its experimental division focusing on new methods of user interaction, has revealed a design for a keyboard that makes use of an e-ink to add extra functionality.
Check out the video below to see what is being called DisplayCover in action. As you can see, it can do all sorts of clever things, from simple app shortcuts (using Microsoft's boxy Start Menu-style buttons), to moving the Photoshop toolbar off the screen giving you more room to draw. As it is essentially a fully functional touchscreen, it can also be used in smarter ways, such as for signing documents with a virtual pen or even pinch-zooming maps. It could even be used as a simple trackpad.
The display runs at 1280x305 and when used with a 10.6" Surface Pro 2, it effectively increases screen real estate by 8%. Being an e-ink display (like a Kindle) rather than a fully tablet-style display means the impact on device battery life shouldn't be too significant.
It's certainly a very cool idea, and it'll be interesting to see if the technology makes an appearance in future Microsoft products. The Surface Pro 3 was released in June last year - so could it be time for an upgrade featuring the new tech? [Microsoft via Engadget]