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MSFT Gets Touch Cover Keyboard Patent for Surface Tablet

By - Source: Engadget | B 21 comments

Microsoft has received patents for touch keyboard and magnetic coupling.

Ever since the Surface tablet was launched by Microsoft, the company has been busy trying to lock down the best aspect of its product. For those who don't know, the Surface is a tablet from Microsoft that runs on either Windows 8 or Windows 8 RT and has a kickstand and a smart cover. The smart cover is, however, not just any old cover. It outdoes every other cover available, featuring a magnetically attached touch keyboard with a capacitive touch tracker pad.


This cover has turned into something rather iconic for Surface tablets. Microsoft is making sure it stays that way, as it has now obtained patents for both the touch keyboard cover and the magnetic coupling. While Microsoft might be a bit paranoid about its design being stolen, you can't fault the company for trying to secure it as its own, especially as this type of technology is highly desirable to other tablet makers. If you are still in the dark about what the fuss is all about, we would recommend you look back to the original commercial for the tablet.

Do you think that this move by Microsoft is going to stop the development of cover keyboards by other companies due to potential lawsuits? Hopefully, we will see some development in alternative input methods, such as advanced gestures, eye tracking or even laser projected keyboards.

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  • 7 Hide
    WithoutWeakness , March 27, 2013 3:14 PM
    This is actually something I'm not upset about someone patenting. Although other tablets have keyboard cases from third-party manufacturers, the Touch Cover's capacitive design, the purpose-specific magnetic connectors on the tablet, and the inclusion/use of the kickstand were really the most innovative implementation that any manufacturer has come up with to marry a keyboard to a tablet. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple was on their heels thinking of how to develop one of their Smart Covers to mimic the keyboard design of the Surface.
  • 1 Hide
    geoc , March 27, 2013 3:26 PM
    sorry, what is the SURFACE?
  • -8 Hide
    everlast66 , March 27, 2013 3:35 PM
    WithoutWeakness... really the most innovative implementation that any manufacturer has come up with ...

    Wasn't it Apple that first come up with the idea to have a magnetically attached cover ?!?
    Now all of a sudden M$ most innovative, M$ and innovative do not belong to one and the same sentence.
  • 4 Hide
    tokencode , March 27, 2013 3:39 PM
    everlast66Wasn't it Apple that first come up with the idea to have a magnetically attached cover ?!?Now all of a sudden M$ most innovative, M$ and innovative do not belong to one and the same sentence.



    Except Apple's covers weren't 1/2 as functional... This is far nicer than any Apple cover...
  • -4 Hide
    everlast66 , March 27, 2013 3:40 PM
    WithoutWeakness... really the most innovative implementation that any manufacturer has come up with ...

    And Apple is also the only manufacturer that I know of that uses and has used for years magnetically attached connectors on their laptops.
  • 4 Hide
    Chairman Ray , March 27, 2013 3:43 PM
    everlast66Wasn't it Apple that first come up with the idea to have a magnetically attached cover ?!?Now all of a sudden M$ most innovative, M$ and innovative do not belong to one and the same sentence.


    Magnetic covers have been used for devices since early handheld calculators. Although keyboards being embedded in covers isn't new either, the way Microsoft implemented it is something very innovative.
  • -4 Hide
    southernshark , March 27, 2013 3:47 PM
    MS would be wise to attempt to license this tech to Apple.
  • -5 Hide
    everlast66 , March 27, 2013 3:56 PM
    I am yet to see at least 1 of these so innovative devices in the wild !
    Stupid people aren't they realizing what are they missing by not buying one of these masterpieces /sarcasm
  • 2 Hide
    jhansonxi , March 27, 2013 4:09 PM
    everlast66Wasn't it Apple that first come up with the idea to have a magnetically attached cover ?!?Now all of a sudden M$ most innovative, M$ and innovative do not belong to one and the same sentence.

    It may have but I think these patents are design patents which protect the specific design (regardless of who invented the "magnetic latch"), not utility patents which protect the functionality (against any design): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_patent
  • -5 Hide
    everlast66 , March 27, 2013 4:39 PM
    otacon72..either does the word intelligent and your name.

    ...while yours goes very well with moron
  • 1 Hide
    beoza , March 27, 2013 4:51 PM
    I like the idea of having the keyboard and touch pad integraged into the cover. While this may not be a new thing their implementation of it is the best...so far. There will surely be others who try to make their own versions for all tablets on the market. This is 1 patent I don't mind a company getting since they actually produced they device they patented, and it's not just a demo unit that no one can get.

    Off topic - As for MS not being innovative lets look at tablet pc's in general shall we. MS introduced the Tablet PC way back in 2002 (it flopped), then along comes Apple 8 years later with the iPad and the world pisses itself with how innovative this idea was. MS introduced the Surface late last year and people claim they copied Apple. I'm sure there were also other companies who had tablets before MS and Apple, but Apple was only innovative in that they made the tablet pc much easier to use for the common man/woman and their marketing worked. Businesses have been using tablets longer than Apple has had them around. Heck if you want to really look at the concept of a tablet style pc look at the original Star Trek series, ST TNG, DS9, Voyager, they all had a tablet style pc. All companies have really done is take that concept and make them a reality. In the end who really copied who?
  • -3 Hide
    Solandri , March 27, 2013 5:47 PM
    everlast66And Apple is also the only manufacturer that I know of that uses and has used for years magnetically attached connectors on their laptops.

    Magnetic connectors originated in deep fryers. The idea being that if you trip on or a child pulls on a cord, the cord releases instead of boiling oil being flung everywhere. They were commonplace enough that UL worked on standardizing it in 2001 (so you could buy any replacement magnetic power cord instead of having to get the manacturer's).

    That's where the patent should've ended. Unfortunately the USPTO has this bad habit of granting new patents on old ideas with "on a phone", "on a computer", and "on the internet" appended to the description.
  • 1 Hide
    antilycus , March 27, 2013 10:08 PM
    For anyone who has never used this keyboard its PURE CR@P. Big time. NO haptic feedback means you can't tell what you are you doing. If you have a chance to check one out on display, I recommend it because the keyboard is junk.... now patented junk, but still junk.
  • -1 Hide
    9th , March 27, 2013 10:34 PM
    antilycusFor anyone who has never used this keyboard its PURE CR@P. Big time. NO haptic feedback means you can't tell what you are you doing. If you have a chance to check one out on display, I recommend it because the keyboard is junk.... now patented junk, but still junk.


    For $10 more you can get the Type Cover which has mechanical keys. The type cover is not perfect either, but a heck of a lot better than typing on a touch screen.
  • 0 Hide
    w8gaming , March 27, 2013 11:54 PM
    [Off topic - As for MS not being innovative lets look at tablet pc's in general shall we. MS introduced the Tablet PC way back in 2002 (it flopped), then along comes Apple 8 years later with the iPad and the world pisses itself with how innovative this idea was. MS introduced the Surface late last year and people claim they copied Apple. I'm sure there were also other companies who had tablets before MS and Apple, but Apple was only innovative in that they made the tablet pc much easier to use for the common man/woman and their marketing worked. Businesses have been using tablets longer than Apple has had them around. Heck if you want to really look at the concept of a tablet style pc look at the original Star Trek series, ST TNG, DS9, Voyager, they all had a tablet style pc. All companies have really done is take that concept and make them a reality. In the end who really copied who?]

    I don't think Apple was successful just because they somehow has "improved" tablet PC and "made it easier" to use. In my opinion, Apple was successful, only because they were riding on the success of the iPhone, which itself was riding on the success of iPod that gave them a huge target market to begin with. It was a series of well-timed product release, which combined the advancement in technology, more affordable prices and existing customer base.

    Meanwhile, Microsoft and others in the past were selling their tablets to the "professional" market. The prices were high, and the technology at that time was not really that great yet. Take a look at the movie "Under Siege 2", where Steven Seagal was using Apple Newton, a devices which would evolve into PDA and smartphone later. Look at the screen resolution and its apparent functionality, do you think many people want to buy that if it was $499? Apple Newton was actually sold at $700.
  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , March 28, 2013 4:10 AM
    antilycusFor anyone who has never used this keyboard its PURE CR@P. Big time. NO haptic feedback means you can't tell what you are you doing. If you have a chance to check one out on display, I recommend it because the keyboard is junk.... now patented junk, but still junk.

    Hmm, a touch sensitive keyboard not having any kind of mechanical feedback
    ...
    What exactly were you expecting?
    ...
    Methinks you are deliberately ignoring the Type keyboard that does have mechanical keys just so you can have an anti-MS rant - fire away - all it does is show up your own ignorance
  • 0 Hide
    jabliese , March 28, 2013 6:49 AM
    Apple has stated they are not interested in making tablets into notebooks.
  • 0 Hide
    irh_1974 , March 28, 2013 7:35 AM
    jablieseApple has stated they are not interested in making tablets into notebooks.

    Despite having a vast array of peripherals on the accessories page that do exactly that
  • 2 Hide
    irh_1974 , March 28, 2013 7:40 AM
    http://store.apple.com/uk/product/H9460B/A/logitech-ultrathin-keyboard-cover-for-ipad?fnode=3e

    Connects by magnets, but the data connection is via your bluetooth? Surely the data connection via the magnets themselves is a more elegant solution?
  • -1 Hide
    WithoutWeakness , March 28, 2013 8:32 AM
    everlast66Wasn't it Apple that first come up with the idea to have a magnetically attached cover ?!?

    The magnetically attached cover has been done before, but including a keyboard/touchpad to work alongside the integrated kickstand and making it a functional peripheral instead of a flimsy $40 plastic flap was the innovative part.

    antilycusFor anyone who has never used this keyboard its PURE CR@P. Big time. NO haptic feedback means you can't tell what you are you doing.

    There is no haptic feedback in the form of vibration but there is audible feedback from the speakers on the tablet in the form of a clicking noise when you press keys. The iPad's glass screen does the same thing (no vibration, audible click) and I bet you can tell what you're doing on that. I think Microsoft's keyboard is much better because you're not taking up half the screen with the virtual keyboard.
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