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Shape-Changing Plastic Could Provide Touchscreens with 'Clicky' Keyboards

One of the largest omissions from the past few generations of smartphones has been the lack of tactile feedback due to a combination of touchscreens only proving a virtual response, and the continuing trend of manufacturers foregoing physical keyboards for slimmer devices and increased screen real estate.

Strategic Polymer's new electromechanical polymer (EMP) technology may offer a solution to this problem by allowing physical "clicky" keys to pop out of a touchscreen with millisecond response time. EMP utilizes a new "high-strain electromechanical material" which, through electrostriction, can be engineered to respond very specifically to an applied electric field and deform by up to 10 percent with very fast response times.

If this technology works as advertised, we may see touchscreens with functional physical keyboards arrive on the market as early as next year. This being said, it is still unknown if the polymers it could take on different physical layouts for different applications, or if they'd be restricted to single design. Since EMP could not function through a layer of hardened or scratch resistant glass, it brings up further concerns as to the material's durability and tolerance for damage.

An early demonstration of Strategic Polymer's electromechanical polymer technology is available below.

  • nforce4max
    Wow now that is neat!
    Reply
  • JOSHSKORN
    Didn't they have this at CES 2013?
    Reply
  • eiskrystal
    The way it moves makes it look alive. Robotics applications maybe?
    Reply
  • eklipz330
    10700904 said:
    Didn't they have this at CES 2013?

    yes. yes they did.

    http://
    Reply
  • C12Friedman
    Although I like the effect, I can't help but think it's a little creepy
    Reply
  • shadowfamicom
    I rather have a smaller screen and a physical keyboard and buttons, the the phones out there now. Really getting sick of touchscreens in general.
    Reply
  • curiosul
    On a side note, I know someone who almost swore that the iPhone's screen was like that (or at least it felt like that to him compared to any other Android phone)
    Reply
  • heero yuy
    hasn't this already been done with a system that uses little pockets that fill with air or a fluid?
    Reply