The Surface Neo is a productivity device, and to help users work to their maximum potential, Microsoft will be releasing a keyboard cover for the Surface Neo which attaches magnetically and will turn the lower touch screen into a physical keyboard. The area above or below the keyboard can then be used as a mousepad or for other uses.
Now a newly published patent has revealed the technology behind the keyboard cover, giving us a closer look at how it works.
The patent notes:
The description relates to keyboards, specifically passive keyboards that work in conjunction with a device that has a touch display. One example passive keyboard can include a relatively flexible portion that defines a base plane and that includes biasing zones that extend away from the base plane to individual key regions that define a second plane.
In clearer language, the keyboard will be made of a rigid material with flexible edges which compresses when pressed to touch the screen, but is otherwise held above the surface of the screen.
This creates a passive keyboard which feels like a mechanical keyboard, and Microsft writes:
In contrast, the present passive keyboards can provide similar feel, but do not require electrical power, do not require electronic components, and employ few moving parts while providing similar feel to traditional electro-mechanical keyboards. The present implementations can also be much thinner than traditional electro-mechanical keyboards if desired.
The idea is somewhat reminiscent of the old membrane keyboard, and with such a simple design we hope on this occasion Microsoft bundles the keyboard with the tablet.
We will, of course, have to wait and see, with recent rumours suggesting the device is being delayed all the way to 2021.