A touchscreen with keys that rise and disappear
June 6th, 2012
11:10 AM ET

A touchscreen with keys that rise and disappear

If you've ever followed up a garbled text with "Damn You, Autocorrect," some high-tech help might be on the way.

A California company says it's created technology that could make keyboard keys rise out of the touchscreen on a smartphone, tablet or other device, then disappear when you were done with them.

Tactus Technology this week demoed Tactile Layer, a product that uses haptics, or a touch-based interface, to make patterns or shapes rise and recede on a regular touchscreen.

The company says its panel, which it displayed on a prototype Android tablet at this week's Society for Information Display showcase in Boston, is  "the world's first deformable tactile surface."

"The origin of Tactus goes back to 2007," said CEO Craig Ciesla in a video.  "Looking at the iPhone and all the elegance of that user interface, I also realized that I like my BlackBerry with the buttons ... . As human beings, we really want to be able to feel things; we really want that tactility."

The layer is flat and transparent and wouldn't add any thickness to a gadget since it would replace a layer that already exists, Tactus says.

For tech consumers, devices that could benefit from the system include smartphones, tablets, e-readers, gaming devices and remote controls, the company says.  But it also has potential in automobiles, medical devices and personal navigation systems, they say.

Tactus has partnered with Touch Revolution, a touchscreen manufacturer. The first Tactus products will be available by mid-2013, Ciesla said.

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Filed under: Design • Innovation • Tech