California-based company Tactus Technology has developed touchscreens that enable real physical keys to rise out of the touchscreen on demand and recede back into the screen once the user is done.
Beneath the screen is a layer of fluid that gets pumped into a number of uniquely designed channels to raise a flexible layer that covers the surface of the touchscreen. Once a user is done, the flexible layer deflates so a person is left with a smooth, flat screen.
The product is a one-of-a-kind although this technology has been attempted before.
New Scientist reports:
"It is not the first time we have seen tactile touchscreens - both Microsoft and Nokia have tried their hand at the tech - but so far no consumer products have emerged."
The touchscreens do have some limitations, though. For now, they can only be used on QWERTY keyboards because the fluid channels need to be built into the hardware, which can't be changed. "But Tactus hopes to make the technology more flexible so that apps can create their own specific buttons," New Scientist reports.
The technology is expected to be available by 2013.
Photo via Tactus Technology