When Apple introduced their Smart Cover for the iPad, it was smart in the sense that it could turn on and off the iPad’s display, as well as act as a kickstand of sorts to help prop the tablet up. However if one were to talk about a really smart cover, it seems that Microsoft Research could have Apple beat.

Microsoft Research has recently taken the wraps off a device called the FlexSense. It is essentially a cover of sorts that has its own built-in sensors, thus removing the need to rely on external sensors. So what’s the point of such a device? While there is plenty of potential for the FlexSense, some examples that Microsoft has provided includes image editing where users can use the FlexSense as a physical layer to view filters and image edits.

According to Microsoft Research, the FlexSense “can be used for a variety of 2.5D interactions, including as a transparent cover for tablets where bending can be performed alongside touch to enable magic lens style effects, layered input, and mode switching, as well as the ability to use our device as a high degree-of-freedom input controller for gaming and beyond.”

This is achieved through the use of printed piezoelectric sensors that have been embedded within the thin layer of film. It certainly sounds like there is a lot of potential for a device like the FlexSense, however given that this is a Microsoft Research project, chances of us actually seeing it hit the market is slim, but what do you guys think? Is this something you might be interested in?

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