Ever hear of Tactus? The company develops an ultrathin membrane that sits over the display of any touchscreen device that is also essentially invisible when not in use. But should you abruptly desire the use of actual keyboard buttons beneath your fingertips, the Tactus membrane will suddenly spring into action on demand and magically create a raised and fully operable 3D set of keyboard buttons for you. Suddenly your touchscreen has an actual keyboard on it. The membrane's size is unlimited and can be applied to the smallest mobile touchscreen or even Lenovo's brand new 27 inch table touchscreen PC.
What's more, the membrane doesn’t offer a fixed capability. Any kind of key, any key arrangement and numerous underlying key shapes and sizes can all be configured. Nor is this a haptic touch illusion of any sort. You end up with real tactile keys beneath your fingers where before there were none. When a user is ready to go back to touchscreen use, the keyboard simply disappears.
Tony Rizzo has a great piece on the company on TMCnet’s sister site TechZone360 where he describes what the technology can do and wonders about the potential pitfalls. Ultimately this is the perfect hybrid between glass and keyboard and reminds me a great deal of the TouchFire keyboard from Kickstarter. (See also Kickstarter, a solution for the patient). The only difference is in this case the keyboard disappears (to some degree anyway) when not being used. In the case of TouchFire, you remove the keyboard manually if you don’t want to see it.
My thoughts are – assuming this technology doesn’t have any of the drawbacks Tony discusses, it will be a solid addition to the future of computing and numerous vendors are hopefully going to roll out solutions with this tech embedded into it. Hopefully it will be coming soon to a smartphone and tablet near you.