Tactus sheet adds keys to touchscreen PDF Print E-mail

Even though smartphones are become increasingly touchscreen-oriented, not everyone likes to type on flat, virtual keyboards.

Tactus Technology has proven that the QWERTY-loving keyboard crowd can still get some consideration for their preference. The California-based startup caused quite a stir during the recent SID Display Week 2012 where they unveiled a prototype touchscreen that adds a new dimension to touchscreens.

The prototype touchscreen consists of a sheet of transparent keypad buttons. These buttons literally pop up from the flat surface of the screen, turning into real, physical buttons, whenever required by the user to type on.

Once the keyboard is enabled, users will be able to type on it by pushing it in as they would on a regular, physical keypad. After the user is done typing on the buttons, it will recede until the sheet is flat against the screen again, leaving your touchscreen as seamless and flat as before.

Although the buttons appear to raise from the screen like magic once the keyboard is enabled or “switched on” by the user, the physical transformation actually happens due to a small amount of a clear, oily substance. This fluid is found in a number of microscopic channels underneath the surface of the screen. Whenever the keyboard is activated, the clear substance is pumped through those channels, causing solid buttons to pop up on the screen.

Tactus says that the sheet, called a Tactile Layer, is as thin as the ‘cover glass’ used on current touchscreens, and therefore takes up no more space and would require no changes to be made to the screens and sensors it covers. So your touchscreen will remain as responsive as ever.
The technology, which is touted to be a world-first, will give users far more precision-like control when typing on touchscreens.
In a statement, the company explains it as follows: “This is not a trick of your senses using vibration or stimulation, but rather real physical buttons that rise out of the surface of the screen.”
Craig Ciesla, CEO of Tactus, says the system will not have much of an effect on a phone or tablet’s battery consumption, saying that his team expects “less than two percent battery drain for the whole day.”
According to Tactus, the technology will reach the consumer market as early as mid-2013.
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