Jun 13 2012

Tactus Technology Unveils Touch Screen with Dynamic Keys

The touch screen gets a tactile keyboard without compromising the sleek one-screen interface.

If video killed the radio star, the touch screen killed the tactile keyboard. Ever since the iPhone brought on the touch era, many users have scratched mobile keyboards from their minds.

Yes, there is a subset of people who prefer their mobile phones with slide-out QWERTY keyboards, but that group is clearly an ever-increasing minority.

But what if you could have a touch-screen device that dynamically rendered tactile keys on demand? Sound like magic? Then you’d better refer to Tactus Technology as Harry Potter, because they’ve achieved just that.

In a promo video for the new technology, a baritone voice booms, “For years, people believed that the world was flat. They were wrong. For years, people believed that touch screens were only flat. They were wrong.”

So Tactus Technology is pretty much heralding a new world, like Christopher Columbus. Watch a video of the technology in action, below. It’s like Terminator 2 all over again.

Tactus Technology Introduction from Tactus Technology Inc. on Vimeo.

Here’s a more technical breakdown of the technology at work, from their white paper:

The Tactus Tactile Layer™ panel provides a next-generation user interface with real physical buttons, guidelines, or shapes that rise out of the surface of a touchscreen on demand. The Tactile Layer component is a completely flat, transparent, dynamic layer that sits on top of the touch sensor and display. When triggered, this thin layer deforms and buttons or shapes of a specific height, size and firmness appear on the surface. Users can feel, press down and use these physical buttons just like they would use keys on a keyboard. When they are no longer needed, the buttons recede into the surface and become invisible.

The Tactus panel is the world’s first deformable tactile surface that creates dynamic, stable, physical buttons that users can actually see and feel, in advance of entering data into the device. Covered by more than 22 granted or pending patents, it uses innovative microfluidic technology to create physical buttons that rise and recede to give users the experience of interacting with physical buttons. It allows different pre-configured button arrays, such as a QWERTY keyboard, to be raised or lowered. Not just limited to keyboards and on-screen buttons, the tactile technology can also be integrated off-screen, such as on the backside of a device or on a car door panel.

Does the idea of a dynamic touch-screen keyboard appeal to you? Or do you find that virtual keyboards do the trick just fine?