at SID display week 2012 in boston, tactus technology demoed a morphing touchscreen where tactile keys appear
and disappear as needed. the sample unit was a prototype android smartphone, but the system would be applicable to phones,
tablets, and any other input device, including remote controls, navigation systems, games, and soundboards.
the technology is based on microfluidics, wherein a series of tiny channels are arranged beneath the flexible surface
of the touchscreen, through which a reservoir of special oil can be pumped, ‘inflating’ the keys. the current system
requires that the channels are built into the hardware, so that the configuration is fixed to represent portrait/landscape
configuration for QWERTY or a dialpad, but already apps can selectively control only particular keys or parts of the screen;
in the future, tactus hopes to develop a full-screen, instantly customizable keyspace.
tactus anticipates that the first devices incorporating the dynamic touchscreen technology will be released in 2013.
the system could be implemented in smartphones, tablets, remote controls, navigation systems, and gaming
profile view of the ‘key’ bubbles
the demo android smartphone, in normal touchscreen mode (left) and with keypad activated (right)