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Microsoft Develops Shape-Shifting Touchscreen

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tactile touchscreen image

Microsoft proposes producing a touchscreen with real texture using pixel-sized shape-memory plastic cells.

Credit: Fuse / Getty

Microsoft has filed a patent application to add real texture to a tactile touchscreen. A layer of shape-memory plastic placed above a touchscreen would distort the screen surface when different wavelengths of ultraviolet light strike the pixels from beneath. The display would be coated with a light-induced, shape-memory polymer, which would become hard and protrude when one wavelength of ultraviolet light is transmitted at a pixel, and soft when another wavelength hits it. The texture of a displayed image would be created by modulating these wavelengths.

"Creating well-defined bumps on a touch surface is in many ways the holy grail of text entry on touch devices because it would enable touch typing at much faster speeds than on touchscreens today," says the University of Potsdam's Patrick Baudisch. Although Microsoft's idea is aimed at large table-sized computing displays, Baudisch believes the approach could spell the end of keypads on smaller devices as well.

From New Scientist
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