Apple tablet patent reveals Smart Cover's Second Coming

Aug 03, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

(Phys.org) -- A patent made public on Thursday shows Apple seeking a patent for something called “Cover attachment with flexible display.” The patent news is sending Apple watchers in one specific direction, all suggesting that the release of Smart Cover for the iPad may be in for a Second Coming that will send it far beyond providing an all in one screen protector and tablet stand. The patent suggests Apple intends to inject Smart Cover with more functionality.

What kind of plans might have for the product? The patent application, which was filed by Apple a year ago, also in August, discusses adding a to the inside of a Smart Cover. This would result in Apple’s ability to promote next-generation Smart Covers, complete with built-in, flexible AMOLED displays.

Apple designers are thinking in terms of a flexible display made of a durable, flexible material whereby the cover display and cover could bend and flex together. "Thin flexible display technology can be integrated into the flexible cover without affecting the overall form factor of the cover," the application comments. The cover would connect to the tablet through a wireless or wired data connection, or by way of other ports.

The diagrams with the patent indicate that functions could vary depending on configurations. The smart cover might take on the role of an ultra thin touch keyboard. It might be used as a pad with stylus for drawing. It might complement information that runs on the table’s main display screen among other uses.

The inventor named on the is Fletcher Rothkopf.

While professionals as well as students are finding the right time, place, and applications suitable for tablets, “pinching” and “zooming” just do not cover the spectrum of work needs. Tablet form limitations compel users to stay with other types of computing devices such as laptops and desktops.

The patent application directly confronts some limitations and presents its solution.

Tablet devices, says the application, “can be used for any number of tasks including word processing, social media networking, video conferencing, and gaming. Although this type of allows an extensive variety of tasks to be performed, the overall functionality of this device type still has room for improvement.”

The patent document says that increasing the display area could lead to a significant expansion in functionality.

“Unfortunately, since displays already dominate a majority of one side of tablet devices, device manufacturers generally choose between making the display and therefore the device itself larger, thereby reducing the portability or making the device and display smaller with the result of a less functional device.”

Apple sees its suggested cover attachment with flexible display as the way to address the problem of size versus function. “A way to extend the usability and functionality of a tablet device without making it any larger is desired." In turn, the application describes “many embodiments that relate to a method, apparatus, and, computer readable medium for extending the functionality of a tablet device to an accessory device with a flexible display."

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User comments : 8

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gopher65
4 / 5 (4) Aug 03, 2012
... ... isn't this exactly what Microsoft already announced for their Surface tablets? Am I missing something? How can they patent something not only already already announced by another company, but in the final process of being manufactured and shipped?

That's worse than what they claim Samsung did!
El_Nose
3 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2012
the questions is did Microsoft patent the idea before august of last year?
Tektrix
3.8 / 5 (4) Aug 03, 2012
@ gopher65: It's a patent application, not a patent. If you take the time to actually read the patent application, and especially the claims, you'll see that there is considerable novelty being claimed. Whether the PTO agrees is another story.
SatanLover
Aug 03, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (21) Aug 03, 2012
;whats wrong with laptops?
Laptops are still too big and too heavy. Surface and smartcover are ways of leaping the gap between flexible tablets and notebooks. Apple has to do this to compete with Microsoft. Jobs would have done it first if he were still alive.
Aloken
not rated yet Aug 03, 2012
Pick up laundry at 6pm?
canuckit
not rated yet Aug 03, 2012
This only a flattened version of Apple bowl-headed wearable computer patent :-)
packrat
1 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2012
If Apple can sue over rounded corners and a glass face (both of which had already been done) then Microsoft should be able to sue over a flexible cover that becomes a keyboard which also has already been done. 'Stupid is as stupid does.....' and our patent office has become pretty stupid in the last 15 years or so.
SatanLover
not rated yet Aug 07, 2012
"Whats wrong with laptops?"

comment removed by piss.org

"Laptops are still too big and too heavy. "
You cant see that this device is a reversed laptop? Plus the heat will be near the LEDs from the screen reducing their endurance.

@piss.org Dont like negative comments on your advertising articles huh?