Microsoft is working on a clever workaround for having a small screen on a tablet computer

Surface Pro KeyboardBusiness InsiderA Surface Pro with the DisplayCover accessory showing application shortcuts.

Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group has demoed a brand new Surface keyboard accessory containing an e-ink display, like those found in Amazon’s Kindles, that works alongside the main 10.6-inch display. 

Dubbed the “DisplayCover,” the accessory includes a full keyboard and an ultra-thin e-ink display, which has 1280×305 pixels (for contrast, a Kindle has a resolution of 800×600 on a 6-inch display).

Microsoft touts the display as high resolution and says it extends the usable screen real estate by up to 8%. 

Just as in an Amazon Kindle, the e-ink display is black and white and can be used to extend the functionality from the main screen by showing quick-launch application icons and so on.

Microsoft showed off the e-ink display in a video which showed the selection of different “pens” in a drawing application, as well as displaying various Live Tiles.  

While DisplayCover is just a research project right now, the applications are interesting, especially as tablets would not have to grow exponentially in size to increase functionality.

The new Surface Pro 4 will likely include the same 10.6-inch screen size as the previous versions but could have an extra 0.9 inches of screen real estate when the DisplayCover is added. 

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