A recent patent application published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, dubbed "Device Input Modes With Corresponding User Interfaces," details a method that would allow iPad users to access information on their devices by partially opening the Smart Cover. The patent application reads:
"The device's ease of use can be increased by enabling access to certain resources or features without requiring the user to unlock the device"
AppleInsider found the patent and they discovered that the smart cover could also interpret specific gestures, which would allow iPad owners to quickly change certain settings. Here's more:
The patent also describes a procedure where users could start with the Smart Cover fully open, and then reduce the display area by closing segments of the cover. In order to achieve this, Apple could be including additional magnetic sensors to the iPad to match with the magnets in the second and third segments of the Smart Cover.
Other sensors, such as ambient light sensors or the built-in iSight camera, could also be used to determine the Smart Cover's position. Apple credits Stephen C. Horne with the invention, originally filed on July 19, 2013.