08 June 2012
Tactus Technology debuts touchscreen interface with appearing and disappearing keys
Californian start up Tactus Technology has developed and patented a next generation haptic user interface with real physical buttons that rise out of the surface of any touchscreen and then recede to invisibility.
The Tactus Tactile Layer panel is said to be the world's first deformable tactile surface that creates dynamic physical buttons that users can actually see and feel in advance of entering data into the device. It utilises innovative microfluidic technology to create physical buttons that rise from the touchscreen to give users the experience of operating a physical keyboard. When no longer needed, the buttons recede back into the touchscreen, leaving no trace of their presence.
The Tactile Layer panel is a completely flat, transparent, dynamic surface that adds no extra thickness to the standard touchscreen display since it replaces a layer of the already existing display stack. According to the company, it enables manufacturers to create devices with entirely new ergonomics and form factors, since the screen and the keyboard can now be combined.
When triggered, the thin layer deforms and buttons or shapes of a specific height, size and firmness appear on the surface of the screen. Users can feel, press down and interact with these physical buttons just like they would use keys on a keyboard. The buttons recede into the surface and become invisible when they are no longer needed.
The technology is targeted at devices including tablets, eBook readers, medical devices, automotive displays, industrial controls, test equipment, gaming devices.