There are number of flexible and portable keyboards on the market today designed to interface with everything from laptop computers to smartphones and tablets. The problem with many of these thin and flexible keyboards is that the keys offer very little tactile feedback making typing difficult and uncomfortable. A company called Strategic Polymers Sciences is showing off a new flexible keyboard that has keys that provide more tactile feedback.
The manufacturer says that it’s thin keyboard uses shape-changing polymers that are able to replicate the feel and sound of clicking buttons people are used to from traditional computer keyboards. The company says that its keyboard could be used in laptops and ultrabooks by next year. Perhaps even more interesting is that the company is currently working on transparent coatings that would enable this type of keyboard on touchscreen devices.
The lack of tactile feedback is one of the biggest complaints when it comes to using on-screen keyboards for devices such as tablets and smartphones. The technology that the company uses takes advantage of the special polymer that dramatically and rapidly changes shape when the electric field is applied. The letters on the haptic keyboard developed by the company vibrate to confirm that they have been pressed.
The company says that vibration can also be used to create soundwaves to make the keys click or play music when pressed. The biggest benefit of the haptic keyboard over the standard keyboard that has actual physical buttons is thinness. The haptic keyboard is only 1.5 mm thick and it’s flexible. The manufacturer plans to begin shipping keyboards to equipment manufacturers in 2014.
[via Technology Review]