James Callens, Staff Writer
Take gander at the people walking around campus. What do you see? Students, professors, and Merrimack staff all staring at some sort of touch-screen device.
So, most of you know that typing with your thumbs on glass can be about as fruitful as yelling at a wall. That is, both are an exercise in frustration. And, as tech innovation climbs, touch-screen input is only going to become more pervasive.
If you look at any current touch-screen device, it has a versatile user experience, but there’s no real tactile experience.
Tactus Technology is the developer of a new user interface for touch-screen devices. Imagine Saran Wrap that can instantly “grow” into bubble wrap on demand, and then have the ability to smooth back over when done. That’s the basic idea of how this new screen works.
Tactus designed a screen that easily integrates with smart phones, tablets, GPS devices, and gaming systems (and anything with a touch screen for that matter).
The screen will be the same thickness as previous screens but has channels cut out in the inner layer. These channels work via micro fluidics to “push” a proprietary oil up against the front overlaying panel to simulate real buttons.
This new sci-fi looking haptic solution will hopefully bring back some of the much needed tactile feedback.
The new screen, which some are nick-naming “lumpy,” is completely smooth and seamless. It replaces the old flat screen, has minimal power consumption, and has customizable button layouts, shapes/sizes, and locations.
The oil is application controlled and the channels can be formed into any configuration. It can even turn into a gaming control pad, for instance.
The benefits of such an interface could even extend beyond simple convenience. Just imagine blind people being able to read Braille or even just interact with their touch-phone or tablet!
This screen may rekindle your love of the flat screen and fewer people would be damning their autocorrect if they could type texts and emails on a physical keyboard.
Tactus plans to sell this technology to OEMs rather than creating their own new line of tablets and phones. The company expects to be in production by the middle of 2013 and on mobile devices by early 2014.