Transparent physical buttons rise up from touchscreen on demand

You really need to watch the video to truly get this. This tech would replace the gorilla glass on your tablet. On demand from an app, physical, pressable buttons appear on the formerly flat surface of the tablet. Really interesting.

  • I imagine this would be a enormous advancement for blind users if they can fine-tune this technology to include braille on buttons.

    • mikey

      I agree that it would be great for blind users or other subsets. I was over 50 when physical keyboards were introduced on phones. The combination of old eyes and fat fingers made them worthless to me. While most scoffed at iPhone’s lack of physical keyboard, it was perfect for me, so personally, a tactile keyboard is overblown. Blackberry continues to try to make physical keyboard their “stand out” feature and there market share continues to plummet (not the only reason of course).

      However, in addition to blind folk, this interface could have great impact in gaming, being able to turn your phone/tablet into a tactile device would be awesome.

    • Weien Wang

      Even without braille on buttons, blind users would still benefit enormously, I think — it’d just be a matter of learning which keys were which. E.g. the spacebar area would give a lot of reference info.

      Very cool!

  • Sledge

    OT a bit, but did you see the size of the phone/tablet that guy pulled out of his pocket? Way to make a tech demo.

  • marcintosh

    Can’t tell from the video if it’s just that one configuration of buttons or if you can raise any part of the screen, which would be much better. Still, amazing tech.

  • Prof. Peabody

    I don’t see this gaining much steam. I’ve seen demos of similar technology but it never seems to make it to market.

    First, it rarely works as well as it does in the renders and demos and even a half second pause for the bumps to come up makes it unworkable for everyday use. Secondly, it requires a soft, plastic screen at the exact moment when the whole industry has just switched to rock-hard, toughened glass screens. Finally, it provides very limited utility for the average user and generally costs a great deal which is a deadly combination for sales.

    The unspoken idea that people who do not currently thumb-type on the iPad in portrait mode now, will switch over to thumb-typing in portrait simply because there are now a few bumps on the screen is probably entirely faulty. Lucky for those of us interested in technology, this idea doesn’t seem to want to die, so we will eventually find out how useful or popular this concept is, but I personally doubt it will ever catch on. I know it would be more of a detriment to my iPad use than a boon.

    • the problems you mention are technical limitations that will likely be eliminated w/ time. lag? materials? cost? we’ve heard all of those before…

  • Jasper

    Note that this tech produces a fixed grid. It’s not flexible at all. And it’s not scalable to Braille dots.

    • how were CRTs w/ graphics in the ’70s and ’80s? pretty limited. see present day.

  • isogrifo

    Did anyone else notice every still looks at their screen to type just like we all do now?

  • This is what BlackBerry should have been working on.

  • Apple has patents on this kind of stuff, so you can be sure they’ve been thinking about it too.