Ever since touchscreen mobile devices came on the scene, the usage of actual buttons on cell phones has become very uncommon. That was until Microsoft invented their latest development that combines a touchscreen and the sensation of pushing on the actual keyboard buttons.

Hong Tan, a senior researcher at Microsoft, believes that users should not be limited to just sliding or tapping their fingers on a glass screen. So, she has been working on a solution for that problem.

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This innovative technology means that a person would still use their touchscreen phone; however, when they tap their fingers on the screen, it will feel as if they are pressing an actual button. Additionally, a person would be able to sense the weight of a folder when dragging and dropping a number of files elsewhere on a device’s home screen.

Furthermore, the researchers are working on different tactile feedback sensations that will involve both hardware and software. Basically, this translates into different touch responses for specific software features.

For instance, in order to achieve a keyboard sensation, a layer of material under the glass that bends under electronic voltage was put into place. This make-up allows the glass to slightly bend with each key stroke.

Additionally, electrovibration is another system that could be used. In this system, the voltage that is applied to the glass surface alternates. This approach essentially changes the friction between your fingertip and the glass, which, in turn, creates both sticky and smooth sensations. The sensors for this technology would be positioned in the bezel of a smartphone or tablet in order to create this effect for the user.

Startup Tactus is also working on this type of technology as well. Recently, they announced that their iPad case could generate physical keys from an Apple tablet’s flat display.  Also, Fujitsu had their own demonstration of their sensory touchscreen that allows users to feel different textures while using their device.

As of late, the likelihood of this technology being integrated in consumer products anytime soon is fairly low. However, this leap in innovation is shedding a light on the fact that companies are beginning to put more of their resources into inventing new options for smartphone and tablet users.

Copyright Inventionland 2014