Haptic display/keyboard uses microfluidics to create buttons when needed

June 08, 2012 // By Nicolas Mokhoff
A haptic user interface with real physical buttons, guidelines, or shapes that rise out of the surface of any touchscreen and recede to become invisible is being demonstrated at this week’s SID event.

Tactus Technology claims its Tactile Layer panel is the world's first deformable tactile surface that creates dynamic physical buttons that users can actually see and feel in advance of entering data into the device.

Tactus uses innovative microfluidic technology to create physical buttons that rise from the touchscreen to give users the experience of operating a physical keyboard. When no longer needed, the buttons recede back into the touchscreen, leaving no trace of their presence.

The Tactile Layer panel is a completely flat, transparent, dynamic surface that adds no extra thickness to the standard touchscreen display since it replaces a layer of the already existing display stack. By combining the screen and the keyboard can now be combined Tactus enables manufacturers to create devices with entirely new ergonomics and form factors.

The demo used a prototype Google Android tablet and is the result of a new partnership between Tactus and Touch Revolution, a unit of TPK Holding Co., Ltd. " We are looking forward to seeing new mobile and consumer devices using our combined technologies in 2013," said Mark Hamblin, founder & CTO of Touch Revolution.

A finished product would be aimed not only at consumer, but also address medical and industrial applications, noted Craig Ciesla, CEO of Tactus Technology at SID.

Tactus Technology (Fremont, CA) is showcasing in SID’s I-Zone at Display Week 2012, a reserved area highlighting the newest and most innovative display technologies. Tactus has also been selected as a top 10 finalist in the CEA Eureka Park Challenge at CE Week in New York.

Held in partnership with the National Science Foundation and scheduled for the end of June, this event recognizes startups with the most innovative and unique technologies.

In December of 2011, Tactus closed $6M in Series A funding in a round led by Thomvest Ventures, with participation from other corporate and private investors.