Have you ever wished there was a way to have some sort of physical buttons on a touchscreen only device without having to use extra accessories or add extra bulk? Well thanks to Tactus Technology, at SID 2012 they have unveiled a prototype tactile user interface for touchscreens devices. Buttons can rise up from the screen when you need them, and go away when you don’t. At SID it was demoed with an Android tablet, but if you view the video below you can also see it in action with the iPhone.
According to Nathan Ingraham at The Verge,
“The technology for this tactile layer panel is based on “microfluidics” — beneath the surface of a fairly ordinary-looking touchscreen are a number of channels that can be arranged in any pattern a manufacturer desires, and a small reservoir of fluid (a special type of oil that allows the channels to be invisible, for the most part). To form the shapes of the keys, a tiny amount of fluid is pumped through the channels, which raises a deformable membrane covering the surface of the touchscreen.”
Nate Saal, the VP of business development, mentioned a big benefit of a fluid-based system is the that a user can customize the tactile response such as changing the pressure and resistance. Something you can’t do with physical keyboards and buttons.”
The great thing about this technology is that it can be a benefit on a variety of devices despite the platform, including automotive devices, smartphones, tablets, GPS or even Medical devices. It is also said that it won’t add any extra thickness to a device, so the possibility of having this on, let’s say the iPhone 5 or the next Galaxy model, can happen.
The first products from Tactus said to be available by the middle of next year
(via The Verge)