Smartphone Card Reader – Microsoft Research has shared its work on a new type of smartphone cover that adds secondary e-ink screens to smartphones. Empowered using Lumia 640, the integrated screen cover provides users with a second display for content, enhancing the real-estate screen on existing phones without too much bulk.
This project saw the research team try to provide other solutions to user requests for more views. Instead of making a bigger smartphone, what if you could add a secondary screen in the form of a cover? Microsoft Research explains the following:
Smartphone Card Reader
Our prototype uses a pre-existing flexible e-ink display module. For our benefit it does not integrate touch overlays; instead we enter five ‘touch’ buttons at the bottom of the screen. The touch button and screen connected to the interface circuit are added to the back of the phone – Lumia 640 – via a flat-flex cable that runs through the flip flip ‘hinge’ along with the bend sensor.
The cover itself consists of a soft-touch cloth bezel attached to the screen and to the back surface of Alcantara using specially made machines.
While the working prototype does not include touch layers, Microsoft Research also envisions a scenario where the cover supports touch, provides additional functionality such as using a secondary screen as a keyboard, or as extra screen space for applications such as Word to expand. The secondary screen can also be used to embed important information such as tickets to concerts, the latest events in Cortana, and more.
This research project is an interesting insight into how Microsoft thinks about expanding mobile form factors. Although most Microsoft Research projects have never turned into real products, we know Microsoft has worked hard on “Andromeda,” a mobile device that runs Windows Core OS with two screens that can be pocketed with phone capabilities. Andromeda and the covers of e-ink screens have little in common, but both focus on using extra real-estate screens to increase productivity.
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