New microfluidic panel tech raises shapes from the surface on demand.
Tactus Technology is behind the 'Tactile Layer' panel that enables touchscreen device users to summon physical buttons on request, which then retract back into the surface when no longer required.
The firm has made its first public demo – on an Android tablet – and it claims the layer is completely flat, transparent, and adds no extra thickness to the standard touchscreen display, allowing users to operate the buttons as they would do on a regular keyboard.
It's an interesting concept, given that most smartphone buyers are restricted to BlackBerry for physical keyboards, with the majority of devices being rolled out only featuring a touchscreen.
Mark Hamblin, Founder & CTO of Touch Revolution – Tactus partner – said: "We are looking forward to seeing new mobile and consumer devices using our combined technologies in 2013."