Tactus Technology, a California-based startup, recently unveiled a unique touchscreen layer for mobile devices that can dynamically create real buttons for an on-demand physical keyboard experience. The screen adds no additional thickness to touchscreens and the buttons disappear when no longer needed.
The tactile layer uses microfluidic technology, which distributes a proprietary fluid across the layer to create the bulges that act as buttons. That layer replaces the existing window or cover lens layer of existing touchscreens, which sits right above the touch sensor and the display, hence adding no additional thickness.
But besides creating physical QWERTY keyboards dynamically on a smartphone's flat touchscreen surface, the technology can also be used in gaming controls and navigation for other complex touch interfaces. Tactus expects the first product sporting the technology to roll out in mid 2013.