Surface Music Cover hints at potential for tablet input innovation

Microsoft's second-generation Surface tablets feel like more of the same. There's a creative spark in the accessory department, though. Redmond is trying to attract remix artists with a music kit that includes a touch-sensitive cover loaded with DJ controls. I'll let the official promo video explain.

Nothing says hip and relevant like Linkin Park.

Still, the Music Cover looks pretty cool. This limited-edition accessory can detect varying degrees of pressure—something standard touchscreens can't do. It's backlit for club sessions, too. Microsoft hasn't announced pricing, but hopefully, the Music Cover won't be too expensive.

We already know that the latest Touch Cover is based on a grid of 1092 sensors. The Music Cover may use similar tech, though the mention of pressure sensitivity reminds me of the Synaptics ForcePad we demoed last year. Hmm.

As far as I can tell, the Music Cover is a one-trick pony. The control mapping appears to be static, at least on the, ahem, surface. But if the underlying sensor array is flexible enough, a similar accessory could theoretically serve as a giant touchpad—or ForcePad—that could be combined with projected controls. Microsoft has demoed projected touch technology before, and it wouldn't have to worry about tracing input optically. I'd definitely be more interested in a Surface tablet if it had frickin' lasers.

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