Touchscreens to get more physical with Tactus

Touchscreens to get more physical with Tactus
Physical buttons on touchscreen devices become a reality with the next-generation user interface from Tactus.

Tactus keys on a phone

CES 2013 wasn't merely about the latest phone, tablet and 4K TV announcements. Although still a work-in-progress, the tactile touchscreen technology from Tactus gives us an exciting sneak-peak into the near future of mobile devices.

There's nothing that quite matches the user-friendly elegance of touchscreen devices. That is, until you start typing away on your mobile device. It's inevitable - at one point or another, you're bound to make a typo. It's an inherent problem of touchscreen devices, and it's why various keyboard attachments for tablets and even phones is still a thing in this day and age.

Tactus Technology aims to change that for good. What the company has accomplished is nothing short but amazing: physical keyboard buttons that can be made to appear on the touchscreen to aid users typing. And, when the keyboard is no longer needed, the buttons quickly disappear into the screen, leaving a flat, seamless surface. Mind-boggling, isn't it?

Tactus keys on a tablet

While Tactus tactile display sounds like something directly ripped out of a science fiction flick, there's actually a real, working technology behind it. In a nutshell, Tactus Technology has channels beneath the top polymer screen layer that is filled with fluid.
Dynamic microfluidic layer
As the pressure increases, the fluid pushes up through the channels against the top polymer layer, making it expand in pre-defined locations. This in turn enables an array of physical and completely transparent buttons to rise out of the surface of the screen.
Fluid pressure raise

According to the company behind Tactus, it is possible to create almost any type of button configuration or layout on a panel. The technology isn't just limited to keyboards and on-screen buttons either, as it can be even used on the backside of a device or on a car door panel.

It's a truly innovative solution to bringing the accuracy and responsiveness of physical keys to touchscreens on mobile devices. For example, Tactus technology can be used to display braille for blind users, and, since the technology isn't purely limited to QWERTY keyboard form, gaming on touchscreen devices can be revolutionised as well.
While Tactus is still a work in progress, it's impossible to ignore its potential to drastically change they way we interact with technology. The company behind Tactus assured that partnerships with hardware manufacturers are being made, with the first Tactus-enabled devices landing in stores by the end of 2013. In the meantime, you can check out the official introductory video that has all the magic unfold before your own eyes.

Do you miss using actual keys on your phone?


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