Tactus has developed transparent, touchable buttons for touchscreens that appear on demand to create a typing experience similar to on a keyboard.
Tactus Technology, in partnership with touchscreen manufacturer Touch Revolution, first demonstrated its patented ‘Tactile Layer’ component on a prototype Google Android tablet at the Society for Information Display’s Display Week 2012, and more recently, at CES 2013. The innovative technology provides a haptic user interface with transparent physical buttons that rise up from the surface of any touchscreen.
Tactus uses microfluidic technology to create the buttons, which rise to give users the experience of operating a physical keyboard, before receding back into the touchscreen when they are no longer needed. The Tactile Layer panel is a completely flat and transparent surface that adds no extra thickness to the standard touchscreen display. When triggered, the thin layer deforms and buttons or shapes of a specific height, size and firmness appear on the screen. Tactus has identified a range of devices that could benefit from this technology, changing how we interact with them. These include smartphones, tablets, eBook readers, gaming devices, remote controls, automotive displays, and medical devices.
Tactus explains on its website how the technology helps to improve our experience with touchscreens:
While touchscreens provide a versatile user experience, they provide no tactile experience for consumers. Vibration haptics and similar solutions try to simulate a sensation of touch, but all are “feedback” technologies, vibrating only after touching the screen (even if they are touched in the wrong place or by mistake). In contrast, Tactus’ technology creates real, physical buttons, where users can rest their fingers on the buttons, as on a mechanical keyboard, and input data by pressing down on the keys. Tactus is the only solution to both “orientation” and “confirmation” problems that are inherent in touch screens.
The technology is expected to be in production by late 2013. Check out the video introduction below for more info: