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Microsoft may be working on a flexible phone case that does more than just protect

Microsoft is reportedly working with the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria to create a case that will do more than just protect your phone. The project, called FlexCase, is said to double as an extra touchscreen for your phone and uses the flexibility to navigate parts of the operating system as well.

Piezoelectric circuitry inside the cover can detect presses, pinches and flexes which can then be used as shortcuts or ways to navigate different apps. From Gizmodo:

For the time being, the FlipCase is just a research project that will be presented at the Computer-Human Interaction conference being held in May. (Hence the awkward cables hanging off the bottom of it.) But eventually the technology could make it into our hands as smartphone cases become just as useful as the devices themselves.

It is said that the FlexCase will be shown off in May at the Computer-Human Interaction conference.

Jared started off writing about mobile phones back when BlackBerry ruled the market, and Windows Mobile was kinda cool. Now, with a family, mortgage and other responsibilities he has no choice but to look for the best deals, and he's here to share them with you.

60 Comments
  • This is cool. I want that along with Surface Phone with leaked 64 bit W10 mobile concept. Sent from Windows Central on Windows 10
  • Yeah it will be a great combo !!! ;) just it should be bundled along!! :P
  • A lot of it seems to complicated. Just show people the e-reader mode and it'll sell like hot cakes.
  • I agree, but they should try to make the gestures a little bit simpler
  • Prototype, sure they'll polish it up.
  • yes of course, I just felt the need the point that out. BTW I am not talking about the design.
    Butt overall, the idea is cool.
  • How more simple can you get? You bend a corner or the top and the screen seems to tell you what these gestures can do in the app.
  • with Surface Phone? its too early that thing need more more refinements to be perfect. hope it for surface phone 2. that tech is in very very early stage 
  • Man, they stole my idea!!! You know how the Surface has interchangeable Type Covers?  I once proposed the idea of making a type cover that utilized a touch sensitive e-ink display, for exactly this kind of thing - extending apps to the multi-touch e-ink, to enhance the useability of the app. I got the idea when I saw originally saw the Surface Music Kit, and began to wonder what if you could customize a Surface cover for everything - not just music.  As with Project FlexCase, the e-ink display coupled with a touch layer allows for customizable buttons and graphics, that interactions can be assigned to when touched. And the high degree of contrast, meant that the customizeble cover would be viewable even in direct sunlight. In my mind, I was thinking something like this would be perfect for the Surface Mini - that never happened. Thank you, Panos.  And I was figuring the first apps that would take advantage of it, would be Amazon's Kindle app, and Barnes & Noble's Nook app, where you could shop and navigate their respective bookstores on the Surface LCD, and read and navigate those books in natural lighting conditions on the e-ink Type Cover. 
  • The idea was in the air long time ago: Check this video out https://youtu.be/ozLaklIFWUI at the 2:10 mark there is the concept in action. Posted from WC for W10 running on my 930.
  • Protip: If you have an idea, an original one, chances are something you think up is already done in one way or another. Gotta act diligent bro.
  • The 64-Bit version of the OS isn't going to look or be different though.... Sent from Microsoft Band
  • For a prototype research project that's amazing. Little bit of polish and that will find it's way to my phone in no time.
  • So far its come from an integrated solution to adding via a case
  • Will it work for iPhones and Android phones?
  • I do think that any new Surface phone will have a cover that does keyboard/potentially extra screen to make the phone more PC like.  But I don't think it will flex like this.  E-reader screens are not good enough tech.  Not responsive as an extension.  And flexiblity looks too breakable for daily use.  Nice for niche applications though.
  • Great! It will be more cool if they release it exclusively for windows 10 users
  • Lol ur wish will be denied, fr sure :p
  • Great! I'd love if the cover of a surface phone will act as an "kindle" reader and a keyboard... That would be awesome! Other gestures like bending edges are too complicated at least in this developement stage. It MUST be easy for people to use and with steep learning curve.
  • Which OS was running on the Lumia device? It sure doesn't look like Winows 10.
    Waiting for the concept to materialise!!!
  • I think it was Windows Phone 8.1. The keyboard was different.
  • The laptop mode keyboard concept is impressive.  I've always wanted a viable keyboard case. The bending of the corners seems gimicky though. 
  • The idea of a second touch surface for typing and navigation, and as a lesser screen is something I am hoping for from the coming Surface Phone. It is definitely a good one. This concept doesn't give a compelling enough case for its flexibility, however. I don't think that pressing on a surface which keeps trying to flex out from underneath your finger is a pleasant experience. Really, all of the flex-initiated actions here could be handled by a thin, rigid screen with a couple of buttons or touch points at the top.
  • Welcome development
  • Cool case!
    Does it make coffee in the morning?
  • Coffee makers make coffee in the mornings... but who cleans the jar and filters?
  • That is so cool.
  • It's amazing invention! But I think the question is why do I need this cover? I wish ms could refine it became a iconic ms product.
  • I don't see much value in this. Not to say it isn't unique and cool but on android I can change music in the notification without a wieldy case hanging off, I can do true multitasking, and map gesture aren't very hard to do in any OS.. With 6.0 there and onwards there will be fingerprint recognition for banking apps for extra security... My point is what is the added value here Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • This video obviously isn't the be-all and end-all of everything it can do. Developers can toy with this in many ways to expand their applications.
  • I love it, at least as exploration. I really think that interaction methods with touchscreen devices need to be re-imagined, like MS did with the Surface line (pen and keyboard). The methods that are called "touch" interaction are really visual interaction, and don't rely upon the sense of touch and muscle memory at all, like I do while touch-typing this message on my keyboard and looking at the screen of my PC. I don't know if the basing these interactions on the framework of paper is really ultimately the most natural for users, but it's a great start.
  • i WANT ONE!!!
  • I hate covers and I see zero use in this. One screen is enough. Every single device with two screens has always failed. It's a useless gimmick. Sent from an alien space ship with a Lumia 950
  • Nintendo DS?
  • It's for little kids Sent from an alien space ship with a Lumia 950
  • No it isn't, and if it were, that would still be an absolutely terrible arguement. You said "Every single device with two screens has always failed." not "every single device that isnt for kids". for kids or not, you are wrong.
  • I would gladly sell millions of devices to 'little kids'!!
  • "It's for little kids" Yawn.
  • Yeah no.  I know plenty of adults, myself included, who play with the DS/3DS.  It's an excellent alternative for people who don't have the time to sit down at a console and who don't want to burn up their phone battery (and credit card) on mobile freemium games.
  • Add the 3DS to that, those are super-hits in the portable gaming community, even outselling the 'single-screen' PS Vita by huge margins. Everything is about packaging, functionality, perception, timing and quality of delivery. There is no generic 'formula' for successful or unsuccessful products - if there was a formula, there will be no failed products.
  • So? You don't have to get it! If it's an accesory like an actual flip protector, people that like it may want to use it!
  • What im getting at is, that if MS thinks that the surface phone is gonna be all about a cover then they are in for a disappointment. The surface phone needs to bring a whole other level of revolutionary. Sent from an alien space ship with a Lumia 950
  • A horizontal flip phone.
  • I dont think its very useful for phones, but if you add this to the haptic feedback project microsoft its also researching, yu could have the best laptop keyboard ever. Instead of having one keyboard for everything, every app or game could have a specific key display that could benefit from the pressure sensitivity of the screen. Imagine having you photoshop tools and layers displayed there, or game controls you can customize and arrange as you see more you oress the faster you shoot or accelerate, etc. The haptic feedback i mentioned microsoft research also showed (here http://youtu.be/ee1wuZxiLsc) was a super thin layer on top of a screen that sent electrical signals to your finger tips so you could feel things. Put this on top on top of the flex case and you would change keyboards forever. No more keyboard + touchpad, it would all be a big pressure sensitive, haptic feedback enabled eink screen
  • I think Ms are on damn good form they are coming up with some cool ideas right across the board I'd have one of those cases any day. It's a good time to be a Microsoft fan
  • I could see this being useful. Basically two modes:
    1. E-Reader
    2. Second screen Make the second screen show the normally hidden menu. For example:
    Office - have the 'ribbon' or part of it
    Maps - search results or routes
    Also it could show the hamburger menu.
  • Yep, if they make at least half of this it will be e huge win. I hope to see it n near future.
    Probably may be available with so called Surface Phone release
  • Remember when they got the sensors to sense the curvature of the cover without external sensing? They demoed it on a surface, and showed what it could be used for. This is just a smaller version of that. Something like this, if executed properly and made into an actual feature, rather than a gimmick, could be really awesome for something like a surface phone Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • It seems to have lots of potentials. Dual screens were not much welcomed but if MS comes up with creative ways to use it as well as making it aesthetic touch and professional look, it would very useful addition.  By the way, the OS on windows phone looks different....
  • That concept was in the video microsoft published. it was about how the devices will be and function in 2020. Specially the section when the phone was two identical rectangular shapes, each with his own screen doing the same thing in this video. Posted from WC for W10 running on my 930.
  • Super cool
  • At first I thought this was going to be kinda late, but after watching the video that's pretty amazing. Is never get a case for my phone but it's still pretty cool.
  • Its strange they didn't demo this on an Android or iPhone.
  • How about working on a screen that you can see with sunglasses on? My Lumia 550 demands I never use sunglasses. Not to be negative though, business is business.
  • That's be the same polarizing filter they use to make it usable in sunlight. Either it's usable in sunlight without sunglasses, or it's not usable in sunlight at all. Just wait till they come up with selective polarizing, or maybe sunglasses that protect your eyes without polarizing.
  • Awesome! Take my money
  • EPIC!
  • *will only be made available on iPhone and android* :v
  • This and tactus would go pretty well together :).
  • Attaching a kindle styled reader to phone as a cover. Nice concept but UI is a mess.