One of the hardest leaps to make in entering this modern era of mobile phones was the idea of using a touchscreen keyboard. Losing our beloved keys was anathema to Blackberry and Treo users. But what if you could get a little of that back? Tactus has been exploring that idea almost since the iPhone’s first announcement. By combining a small pump and an array of microfluidic channels and chambers on a plastic panel, they can bring topograph to otherwise flat touch screens. The keys raise on demand when the keyboard is called, and will disappear when the keyboard is no longer needed. The technology is still very much a work in progress. The demo device they showed off has a single portrait keyboard configuration, and while raising takes a quick second, evacuating the chambers takes considerably longer. Dr. Craig Ciesla, founder and CEO of Tactus , says reliability concerns have largely been dealt with and they’re well on their way to bringing the technology to phone sized devices, as well as refining their larger offerings. The technology is still in its earliest days, but we’re excited to see where it gets. 

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  • Inteli - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - link

    Not that I have a real issue with touch keyboards, this is very very cool. I won't personally get a new tablet for quite a while, I'll think much more strongly about it when they figure out a way for touchscreen keyboards to have travel and tactile feedback. So Tactus, if you're reading this, then get working on travel on those little domes of yours.
  • DuckieHo - Thursday, January 10, 2013 - link

    Is a key stroke registered just on contact or does the user have to actually press down on a bubble?
  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    So there are varying levels of sensitivity associated with the firmness of the buttons, as set in the demo the buttons triggered with a very light touch, more like a bumpy capacitive touch screen. It's unclear what effect firming or softening the action of the keys would have on triggering an input.
  • speculatrix - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Topology is definitely not the right word.
    Topography somewhat better.
  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Good call.

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