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Tactus Touchscreens Put Physical Buttons on Your Phone

By - Source: Core77 | B 28 comments

Because haptic feedback just doesn't cut it!

As convenient as touchscreens may be, there is still one fundamental flaw that every modern smartphone and tablet has failed to solve: touchscreens just aren't capable of providing the same tactile satisfaction as keyboards. Sure there are a few phones out there with both a physical keyboard and a touchscreen, but now it looks like we might finally be able to get the best of both worlds.California based Tactus Technology is working on an incredible new touchscreen that can physically mold buttons out of a glass-like surface as well as make them disappear when not in use. Utilizing tiny channels within the surface, a liquid is pumped into button-shaped chambers creating gel-like buttons that can appear and disappear on demand.

Tactus Technology Introduction

For more information on the Tactus Technology project, head on over to the Tactus webpage for more information and to tune in for future updates. No word on when we might see this technology reach our touchscreens, but we're hoping its sooner rather than later. Haptic feedback can only do so much...


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Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    bejabbers , August 5, 2012 10:51 PM
    Yes! This is great! But please, don't let crAPPLE buy the patent and prevent anyone else from using it.
  • 16 Hide
    alextheblue , August 5, 2012 11:12 PM
    SchizoFrogWill people really want to be bothered removing and replacing the cover all the time? I certainly wouldn't want it permanently covering my screen.
    RTFA please.
  • 14 Hide
    NightLight , August 5, 2012 10:12 PM
    i believe that this will have some appeal... let's see how this goes!
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    NightLight , August 5, 2012 10:12 PM
    i believe that this will have some appeal... let's see how this goes!
  • 9 Hide
    thorkle , August 5, 2012 10:15 PM
    I cannot wait...
  • 2 Hide
    mjflis , August 5, 2012 10:24 PM
    I can see this as a wanted and useful product. I'm not one of those younger people that can test faster that I can drive, I also have big hands. Although I do prefer the Google speak thing, it gets most things right.
  • 22 Hide
    bejabbers , August 5, 2012 10:51 PM
    Yes! This is great! But please, don't let crAPPLE buy the patent and prevent anyone else from using it.
  • 8 Hide
    meltbox360 , August 5, 2012 11:03 PM
    Very very interesting. I have my doubts but I would love them to prove me wrong.
  • 16 Hide
    alextheblue , August 5, 2012 11:12 PM
    SchizoFrogWill people really want to be bothered removing and replacing the cover all the time? I certainly wouldn't want it permanently covering my screen.
    RTFA please.
  • -1 Hide
    phatboe , August 5, 2012 11:58 PM
    Until this technology is released and becomes mainstream how about companies release more tactile QWERTY phones.
  • 3 Hide
    omnimodis78 , August 6, 2012 12:33 AM
    I didn't watch the video, which maybe would clarify my confusion, but the article says nothing (doesn't even elude to it if you read it careful) but do these "buttons" actually end up being "clickable"? In other words, when you press one, does it actually give you the feel of it being pressed and depressed? If these bubbles just raise out but are static, fine, it's better than a 100% flat surface, but the true magic would be if there was some mechanical movement (or the feel of it). Otherwise, it's still just a touchscreen, albeit a bumpy one.
  • 0 Hide
    NuclearShadow , August 6, 2012 12:34 AM
    This is nothing less than awesome. This could go beyond just keyboards and even expand into games.
    Imagine how a platformer would be vastly improved on a tablet with this.
  • 0 Hide
    surfer1337dude , August 6, 2012 1:13 AM
    Next week apple will buy them....
  • 0 Hide
    belardo , August 6, 2012 1:14 AM
    Watch the video, its a click away.

    1 - Don't know if the button depresses. Should be since its a pocket of fluid. It would still be an improvement.

    2 - I think what they have now, the button areas are defined. In other words, it won't form a button because a software displays one. Only for a numeric keyboard or alpha keyboard, not both.

    I do miss the days of a physical keyboard, I could dial a phone number without looking. But in a world in which we rarely actually dial a number, that isn't as big of a deal. I think we tend to just call back whatever is on caller ID.

    I'll still take the full-screen size keyboard we have today over a Key9/10key text entry. Many times, I just use voice for text.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , August 6, 2012 1:20 AM
    omnimodis78In other words, when you press one, does it actually give you the feel of it being pressed and depressed?

    I doubt so. The screen overlay uses microscopic channels to pump fluid into chambers to form the bubble and it takes almost a second to fill/empty them, which is much too slow to give such a feeling. It might be possible to pump faster but then that would require a more powerful pump and increase battery drain.

    The most convincing feedback might be a small spring-loaded magnet with a solenoid to emulate a 'click' feel like some phones already do.
  • -2 Hide
    zeratul600 , August 6, 2012 3:34 AM
    How can i buy shares of this company those guys are gonna get hiiiiiiiiiigh!!!!
  • 1 Hide
    livebriand , August 6, 2012 3:48 AM
    Now this is something that actually deserves a patent. Take a hint Apple...
  • 0 Hide
    livebriand , August 6, 2012 3:50 AM
    mjflisI can see this as a wanted and useful product. I'm not one of those younger people that can test faster that I can drive, I also have big hands. Although I do prefer the Google speak thing, it gets most things right.

    I'm the same way - I'd said that I'd prefer a phone with a physical keyboard, though I ended up getting the Galaxy Nexus instead for stock Android and updates. The software keyboard is definitely annoying here, even on a 4.65" screen. (I also have fairly large hands btw.)
  • -1 Hide
    jcb82 , August 6, 2012 5:35 AM
    Like omnimodis78 said, it'd be pointless if those protrusions didn't mechanically respond to physical depression as a real button would, it'd be like pressing on a bumpy touchscreen. While anyone would welcome improvements upon computer interfaces, I was hoping (or still hoping if my observation was incorrect) for truly tactile feedback from the screen.
  • 2 Hide
    razor512 , August 6, 2012 6:15 AM
    what is the reliability of that material, how long before the screen surface becomes a wrinkled mess when the material loses it's ability to hold it's shape?

    When ever you add mechanical motion to a product, you get increased wear. and thus endurance details are a must.

    (for example a hard drive will have a load/ unload rating of 300,000). How many times can the screen surface deform before it refuses to deform anymore or loses it's ability to hold any shape including flat?

    when shaped as a button, how many times can it be pushed before the material cracks or gets some kind of wrinkle?

    This tech is great but it will be more expensive and I wont want something that wont last as long.

    (that screen also will not work with a screen protector (at least not in their current form)
  • 1 Hide
    archange , August 6, 2012 7:15 AM
    Say goodbye to Gorilla Glass...
    Honestly, I don't think it's worth it. Wait for newer / better tech to give you tactile response. Hint:
    http://www.google.co.uk/patents?hl=en&lr=&vid=USPATAPP12706205&id=orHrAQAAEBAJ&oi=fnd&dq=simulate+touch+ultrasound&printsec=abstract#v=onepage&q=simulate%20touch%20ultrasound&f=false
  • 0 Hide
    maqsabre , August 6, 2012 1:53 PM
    it would make gaming more convenient on smartphones
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