New microfluidics panel could add physical buttons to a touch screen

Tactus Technology has created a microfluidics panel that could be overlaid on touchscreens to produce “buttons,” per a report from CNET. The panel would allow smartphones to create a bunch of nubs over the keyboard keys on touch screens to help guide typists’ fingers.

Some smartphone users are still lamenting the loss of tactile keys like those on a Blackberry, but QWERTY keyboards are hard to justify in terms of real estate when a touch screen can use that space better. A keyboard add-on is a possibility, but one pretender to the Blackberry throne, the Typo, has gotten a mixed reception.

Tactus’ system would put a 0.75 to 1 millimeter-thick microfluidics panel over a device’s LCD instead of glass plastic. A sub-layer of the panel would be punctured with 200-nanometer holes, through which fluid would be pressed to raise the flexible surface of the screen when the operating system called up some buttons.

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via Ars Technica


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