updated 10:29 am EDT, Wed June 6, 2012
Demonstration at Display Week 2012 uses Android tablet
Tactus is demonstrating its Tactile Layer technology at Display Week 2012. The public demonstration, using a prototype Android-based tablet, involves showing off the deformable tactile surface that creates temporary physical buttons on the surface of a touchscreen, which can later recede back and leave the display as flat as before.
The Tactile Layer is actually made of two parts: a solid glass or plastic sheet containing micro-channels, and a deformable covering. When triggered, a fluid is pumped through the micro-channels, inflating predefined pockets in the flexible membrane. Reversing the process pumps the liquid away from the pockets, and the top layer becomes flat once more. Tactus see the technology as solving problems that confirmation of presses via vibration do not, such as "blind navigation" before a button is pressed by running fingers over buttons without triggering them.
Tactus believes that the Tactile Layer could be seen in devices as soon as 2013, after receiving $6 million in Series A funding in December. Current markets being aimed at by the company include smartphones and tablets, gaming devices, GPS units, and industrial control systems.