What if buttons could morph out of the surface of your device? A startup by the name of Tactus has been working on it for a few years, and if all goes well the company is set to bring its dynamic touch screen technology to the masses soon.
The Fremont, California-based company has partnered with Taiwainese manufacturer Wistron, who has also invested in the startup, to release an iPad mini case that can create a physical keyboard out of a flat touch screen surface.
But how does it work? A thin screen protector-like layer is placed over the device's screen. The layer is composed of semi-elastic polymer, and underneath it are little channels filled with a special micro-fluid. Adding or taking away this fluid makes buttons appear and disappear. For the iPad mini case, the layer will connect to a hard-shell backing, containing a switch through which you can activate the physical keyboard.
Tactus will use the iPad case as an initial showcase as the technology can potentially be used in numerous other devices and categories like smartphones, ebook readers, handheld gaming devices, remote controls, medical and automotive devices, and more.
The company is expected to start shipping the iPad mini cases this year for between $80 and $100, with hopes of producing a similar product for Android-based tablets sometime in early 2015. Tactus has raised $19.5 million in funding to date.