Conventional keypad to touch screen- It was a revolutionary change in smart phone evolution especially after the big success of Apple iPhone series. However we can experience the practical difficulties while using the touch screen devices. Absence of the “feel touch” factor makes touch screen devices more prone to typing errors. Without looking into the screen you won’t come to know what letter you’ve typed. It’s big concern of touch screens. Typing on the glass can be equated to “Speaking on a Wall”- Sound as well as vibration feedback systems were experimented in smart phones to simulate the touch effect, but the main problem is the feedback works only after the touch.
Tactile Touch Screen by Tactus Technologies
Tactus Technologies – A US touch interface development firm had unveiled a proto type Android Tablet with a physical keyboard which projects from the touch screen at Society for Information display week 2012 (SID 2012). The technology got widespread attention and bagged several awards also.
Tactus developed a cutting edge technology for tactile touch screens without compromising the display thickness and performance. The great feature of this display is that application controlled transparent physical buttons project out from the flat touch screen surface on user demand. Tactile touch screen keyboard uses real keys where users can rest their fingers on like conventional keyboards. Tactus says
“Tactus is the only solution to both “orientation” and “confirmation” problems that are inherent in touch screens.”
They claim that their tactile touch screen display can be integrated with existing touch screen displays without compromising the thickness and performance. It is simply replacing the front glass layer of display. As Tactus screen features the same thickness of front end protective glass and it will not increase the overall thickness of the display.
Technology behind Tactus Tactile Keyboards
Tactus Tactile Keyboard make use of a special smooth and transparent layer of thickness less than 1 mm. The top layer of this multi layer film is an optically clear polymer. A series of micro channels connects the top layer with the under lying substrate. These micro channels are filled with a special fluid whose optical refractive index marches with the surrounding materials and top/bottom layers. This makes the layer completely transparent.
The fluid pressure inside the micro holes are electronically controlled. Increasing fluid pleasure pop up the flexible top layer at pre determined locations (i.e.. button positions). This enable a physical feel of keypad over the screen. An internal micro controller decides the rise and fall of button as per the signals from proximity sensors or software interface. The Pop up effect is highly responsive and it takes less than one second to rise and reside. Once the button recedes back, the Tactile layer panel become smooth without any traces of popup.
Pop Up buttons can be of any shape including circle, oval, square or ring. The projection height over the display can be controlled electronically. Power consumption of Tactus panel is said to be very low because the it takes power only to raise and down the buttons. Without any additional power requirements the buttons keep their position as long as required from few seconds to hours.
<Image and information courtesy- Tactus Technology Inc>