About three months back word went around that Microsoft was working on some type of secondary E-ink screen for smartphones. We knew almost nothing about the screen at the time, but this week we got our first look.
Gizmodo has turned up a video from one of Microsoft's research teams which shows the FlexCase, Microsoft's concept for the future of the smartphone case.
Developed in partnership with researchers at Joanneum Research and the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, the FlexCase combines a flexible 4" E-ink screen with a touch sensor and flex sensors to give you more ways to interact with your smartphone.
This isn't even close to the cover guessed at three months ago. T^hat sounded more like the PopSlate or secondary E-ink screens like the ones Alcatel was working on in years past.
Instead, the FlexCase is more like a smartphone-sized version of the never-released Microsoft Courier. It should also remind you of one of the research projects we've seen from Queens University. As you can see in the following video, a user can tap on the secondary screen or bend it to use it as an input device.
The researchers have proposed several modes of use, including book mode (as seen in the lead image), where a user holds the phone in one hand and uses the other to manipulate the screen. There's also a laptop mode, and an option for folding the screen behind the phone.
It's a great concept, but this strikes me as one of those ideas that would not last long in the real world. The flexible part would wear out quickly whether through use or simply through getting banged around in your pocket.
Still, one can dream.
What do you think of the design?