A Touchscreen With Buttons, No Really

Modern touchscreen technology, such as that used in smartphones, tablets or even the self service checkout at the supermarket, offers a host of benefits to users.

The ability to quickly enter details, enlarge images or even turn the pages of an e-book are all positive advantages, without question. How many of us find ourselves cursing, however, when we accidentally send a message full of spelling mistakes on our phone, or touch the wrong icon to open an application.

Even with good dexterity it can be difficult to avoid these errors, but for those who have a disability, using a touchscreen can be an off-putting, awkward and fiddly experience that leaves them feeling dispirited.

A Californian company has developed a unique technology that will vastly improve the use of touchscreens for anyone who has struggled with them previously.

Pop-up Buttons

Tactus has come up with a transparent sheet of buttons that take up the same amount of space on a device as the glass layers of a normal touchscreen, but that actually pop-up out of the screen, for better accuracy.

The buttons then recede back into the device when not in use, leaving a perfectly smooth surface. Beneath the surface of the Tactus touchscreen are a number of channels into which, upon demand, a special kind of oil is pumped.

Tactus Touch Screen Buttons
Tactus Touch Screen Buttons

These channels can be arranged into any pattern or shape a manufacturer desires and raise a deformable membrane covering the surface of the touchscreen to form the buttons.

People with a visual disability may find it hard to operate a normal touchscreen display, but Tactus claim that the pop-up buttons will be detectable by touch, making accuracy easier.

In addition, those with poor dexterity who find it difficult to exert enough pressure on a touchscreen will find the buttons much more usable. The pinching gesture to enlarge text or images may also be unnecessary for those with dexterity issues, with the blister type buttons that can complete the task for them.

Future Benefits

Touchscreen QWERTY Buttons
Touchscreen QWERTY Buttons

The introduction of this new technology may have far reaching benefits for future device users. The ability to use the buttons like a normal QWERTY keyboard, could facilitate ease of use and potential for information distribution for disabled students to study through tablets and smartphones.

The Tactus technology is not restricted to QWERTY keyboard buttons, with the potential for pop-up guidelines or shapes to guide users with low vision through tasks other than just texting or typing.

There is also the possibility of the technology being used for other devices, such as self service checkout screens, car dashboard instrument displays and home remote controls.

Whilst smartphones often give a vibration feedback when users press the touch keypad, many people are still more comfortable with the sensation of pressing a real key and the new buttons promise this, whilst still giving the sleek and smooth top layer of a normal touchscreen when not in use.

Touch Buttons in Remote Controls
Touch Buttons in Remote Controls

Once this technology has been fine-tuned, we may even see buttons that can be customised depending upon a user’s individual needs and requirements, allowing those with specific ability and accessing problems to tailor their device to their own specification.

About The Author: This guest article was written on behalf of Evoke Interactive (visit website), by Francesca, a UK-based blogger with an interest in technology and gadgets.

Author: Francesca B

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