Flexible keys raised by fluid or gas on a touch screen surface applied to smart phones, tablets and other consumer electronics gadgets are expected to debut in 2013.
Today you have to choose: Blackberry-style keypad or the touch screen of iPhone and others. Keypads provide handy tactile feedback and are durable, but the keys are small and cut down the screen size. The dynamic keypads of touch-sensitive screens let you easily summon or dismiss letters, numbers or symbols, but the lack of well-defined keys make accuracy challenging, and typing on a flat surface is less pleasing for some users. Add-on keypads can be snapped onto touch-screen phones, of course, but add bulk.
What if raised keys could appear and then vanish whenever you wanted? The Tactile Layer panel from Tactus Technology promises to offer just that in a deformable surface, which was demonstrated earlier this month in a prototype Google Android tablet made by Touch Revolution at the Society for Information Display‘s Display Week 2012 show in Boston. Tactus said it expects commercial applications on mobile phones, tablets, navigation devices and other gadgets next year. The transparent panel would match the weight and thickness of current touch screens, according to the company.
via Scientific American – Larry Greenemeier
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