Instead of leaving most of research work in patents and papers, Microsoft Research’s MSR Next group is working with product teams in improving Microsoft products significantly using their research work. Microsoft Research is working on a technology to include secondary display on the inside of the Flip Covers. There are several use cases for this idea, the secondary low power display can act as a touch keyboard when you want to type something, it can display Cortana and its contextual info always-on when you open the cover and more. Microsoft Research is aware of the fact that startup like Yotaphone is exploring similar idea by including e-ink display on the back of the device, but Microsoft thinks there are usability issues when you have the display on the back.
The good news is that Microsoft Research is already in deep talks with Lumia devices team in Finland to explore the possibilities of including this technology in Lumia devices. How about a Surface Phone with
The funny thing about that story is that Bloomberg doesn't say anything about Flip Covers or secondary E-ink screens. I also can't find any independent corroboration of this story.
Sure, WM Power User did share this graphic, but that's the only confirmation we have so far:
As nifty as this news may sound, I think we should hold off on the excitement until we get a statement from Microsoft Research, or until someone posts a real photo of the covers.
Better yet, let's wait for a video. As past E-ink smartphone cases have shown us, the software is tougher to pull off than the hardware. The Inkcase from Oaxis, for example, never lived up to its potential. And the competing Popslate only started getting good several months after it was released.
So even if Microsoft's screens are released, chances are they will only be as good as the software running on them.