A future version of Apple’s iPad Smart Cover could be even smarter, thanks to integrated LEDs and transparent segments.
A new patent unearthed by AppleInsider describes variations on the current tri-fold Smart Cover that would allow a covered iPad to provide its user with notifications and visual alerts – a little like the LED Flip case for the HTC One M8.
Active or passive lighting
One method detailed is a Smart Cover that incorporated low-power LEDs or electroluminescent panels. These can light up to show notifications even when the cover is closed – but will of course require power. Apple suggests the case could be connected to the iPad via some new form of MagSafe cable or contacts able to carry electricity, or else use its own battery and some form of inductive charging.
Apple also outlines a passive Smart Cover with translucent portions that would allow light to shine through from the iPad’s screen. This solves the power issue because the screen’s own backlight is used.
Both the active and passive solutions would use colours, symbols, shapes and words to create notifications. For example, if the iPad user receives a new email, a letter symbol could appear on the front of the Smart Cover. If it’s an email marked as important, the symbol could be larger, or coloured red. Alerts could be dismissed through use of the iPad’s hardware controls like volume or power.
As always with patents, it shouldn’t be assumed that the things described within will ever become products. However, they can give an indication of what might appear in the future. This particular patent was filed back in 2012, so it could be that Apple has already put over a year of work into designing, prototyping and producing illuminated Smart Covers.