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If Microsoft Research is Developing Secondary E-ink Displays in Flip Covers, I Can’t Find Any Evidence

000021_WMPUThere’s a story going around today that Microsoft’s research division is being retasked from cutting edge research towards more product development work.

Citing Bloomberg, the WM Power User blog reports that Microsoft Research is busy working on secondary E-ink screens:

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 TypeCover DisplayCover?

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.

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Graham Best April 15, 2016 um 4:39 pm

How about a real video showing the second screen in action?

Nate Hoffelder April 15, 2016 um 4:40 pm



FlexCase Puts an E-ink Screen Inside Your Smartphone Case | The Digital Reader April 17, 2016 um 10:32 am

[…] 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 […]

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