Great though touch-screens on tablets and smartphones are, one of the drawbacks with them that I’ve found is that the experience of typing on them isn’t a particularly nice experience. It’s all too easy to type the wrong character and it’s one of the things that is always frustrating about typing notes on an ipad, how much time you have to spend correcting what you’ve typed. So I was really interested to see a tweet today about a technology that has been around for a litle while that makes raised buttons appear from the surface of a touch screen when needed. Checking out the article from Business Insider and then browsing around for some other information about the technology, including this Techcrunch blog post and the website for Tactus Technology, the company developing this idea, and it looks like a really interesting idea that could make typing on a tablet a much nicer experience and avoid having to cart around a chunk of peripherals such as add on keyboards.
Essentially the technology seems to consist of a fluid layer that can generate raised buttons as and when needed. It’s quite intriguing to see buttons suddenly morph (?) out of a flat screen. But what you get is a small raised button that looks like it will be easier to touch and reduce the chance of mistaken keystrokes. I’d be intrigued to find out what the buttons actually ‘feel’ like but they look like being a really useful feature.
Ideally this technology would be integrated into the design of the smartphone or tablet and driven by the software although I see that they’ve also worked on an interim approach using a case. It will be really interesting to see how they get on with getting this technology integrated into mainstream devices and when we might see the first production examples of the technology. It also strikes me to wonder whether the fine-definition of the technology would let you develop a tablet that could display braille writing.