Are you frustrated with sending messages from your smartphone because you mistype on the cumbersome onscreen keyboard? Those days could be a thing of the past thanks to Tactus Technology, who has demonstrated a technology that allows for a tactile keyboard that appears and disappears on the screen like magic.
Tactus Technology uses technology that relies on "microfluidics" and demonstrated this at the SID Display Week 2012. They refer to this as Tactile Layer Technology. Tactus showed a prototype Android tablet that while looking like a regular touchscreen device it was able to transform its screen on the fly to a physical one. This is achieved by having channels underneath the device that can be arranged in any pattern that the manufacturer wants. In this case it was shaped in the form of a QWERTY keyboard. A special type of oil is pumped through the channels that end up taking the shape of keys or other shapes. The Tactile Layer panel is completely flat, transparent and dynamic. It adds no extra thickness to the touchscreen itself since it just replaces a layer of the already existing stack.
The Tactile Layer therefore allows users to have their traditional touchscreen devices along with a "physical", tactile keyboard for sending messages. Unfortunately there are a few limitations of this technology, one being due to the design the keys only appear in one orientation. Pressing the keys also did not provide that much feedback. It should be noted the tech is in its early stages, so hopefully some of the bugs will be worked out before mass production.
Ultimately Tactus Technology hopes to find its way into a new generation of smartphones, tablets, ebook readers, gaming devices and other displays.
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