Tactus makes keyboards that appear out of seemingly flat glass touchscreen surfaces, thanks a fluid-based layer that reacts to electrical signals to create rises and bumps that serve as keys and buttons. It’s a magical technology, and one that you can see demoed on video in the clip below from CES this year. Soon, you’ll be able to get that tech on a range of devices thanks to a new partnership Tactus has formed with Wistron.
Wistron is a component maker that has worked with some of the biggest device makers on the planet, including Microsoft, Apple, BlackBerry and Acer (the company which it spun out of in 2000). It’s bringing its manufacturing expertise and one factory to help Tactus finally bring its crazy tech to market, and also throwing its weight behind the startup as an investor.
Having personally witnessed this tech in action, I’m actually pretty excited for the first gadgets using it to come to market. Tactus says that will happen with a case designed to protect and add a physical on-screen keyboard to the iPad mini (likely similar to that demoed in the video above) that will be sold through retail channels later this year. To activate the keyboard, a user needs only slide a physical switch to raise the buttons, which are normally invisible but integrated into a screen protector film built into the case.
The case is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Tactus tech, which could conceivably be built directly into future gadgets like tablets, smartphones and anything else that uses a touchscreen and virtual keyboard (smartwatches with Braille displays anyone?). It’s an important first step, however, as this will offer the general consumer population their first chance to see how much value is added to a virtual typing experience with the addition of tactile keys.