There were plenty of media darlings at last year’s CES, but few tickled people’s fancies the way that Tactus and its amazing disappearing tablet keyboard did. The company has spent the past few months crafting reference devices for would-be partners and gearing up to help OEMs bring that impressive keyboard tech to market, but now it’s looking to supercharge those efforts with a newly raised Series B round.
Sadly, the company is keeping most of the particulars under wraps for now — Tactus didn’t disclose the size of the round or the full list of new names that are joining existing investors like Thomvest Ventures. In fact, the only new investor Tactus specifically called out is Ryoyo Electro, a sizeable Japanese OEM (that I’ve honestly never heard of) that the company originally tapped as a strategic partner late last year.
And what exactly does Tactus plan to do with a freshly minted Series B? To expand on what it’s been doing for the past year or so — working with OEMs to fine-tune the Tactus experience ahead of some big initial launches. Naturally, part of that fine-tuning comes in the form of developing different sorts of keyboard layouts for OEMs to implement since the last thing a forward-thinking device manufacturer needs is a killer feature that competitors can pick up and run with themselves.
We’ve seen the traditional keyboard layout in action before: it involves pumping up areas of the screen that correspond to your usual set of alphanumeric keys, but more exotic configurations would see the gaps between keys to bulge instead to better guide users’ fingers where they need to go.
To hear Tactus CEO Craig Ciesla tell it, the first batch of devices with those expanding keyboards should hit store shelves toward the middle of this year, and with any luck that’ll just be the beginning. After all, the company has pointed out in the past that the process of crafting traditional glass cover lenses that sit over tablet and phone displays is tricky and costly enough to make a fluid-filled Tactus layer a viable choice. When asked if Tactus’ ultimate goal was to completely supplant traditional cover lenses, Ciesla cautiously confirmed his ambitions.
“It’s not going to be a case going from Q1 2014 where everything is glass to Q1 2015 where everything is Tactus,” he noted. “This is a better interface, it’s more satisfying, it’s lighter, it won’t shatter. It’ll just take time.”
Bold words, but we’ll soon see how right he is — Tactus has promised to show off some updated models when CES starts in earnest next week, so check back to see if these guys (and their partners) can make good on their lofty promises.