Apple has filed for a patent for a new iPad cover that could be pretty cool if it ever gets built. It would have a built in keyboard on the cover so you fold it out and then start typing away. This is significant because the attached keyboard is one of the main selling points for Microsoft’s upcoming Surface tablet. It also matters because it could turn the iPad into a more serious productivity machine instead of a device for media consumption and gaming.
Apple’s cover would go beyond what Microsoft is doing.
One of the most interesting embodiments in the patent is a Smart Cover with a built-in AMOLED display made of a thin, polyimide substrate that could extend the iPad’s display. The cover would connect to the tablet through a wireless or wired data connection, or could even via other ports such as DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort, DVI, or Thunderbolt.
And check it out: it’s solar paneled too:
In one embodiment, the iPad cover has integrated solar panels on the outside of the cover. In this case, the cover doesn’t only power itself, but it could also transfer energy to the tablet. The cover could also include RF antennas, which the filings admit do not yield as much energy. Still, the antennas could power a micro battery or a super capacitor inside the actual cover, to power the low-energy AMOLED or electronic paper display. One advantage of the RF antennas is that they can collect energy whether the cover is open or closed, whereas the solar panels have to face a light source.
Of course, they have to build it first.