Serving Technology

Morphing Touchscreen

Researchers are working on a new type of touchscreen that uses heat-activated gel to define shapes on the screen when warmed. If you miss the feel of a physical keyboard on your mobile device or tablet, or are still holding onto your blackberry, this technology should be of interest. Imagine your device's screen responsively creating keys and buttons to help you navigate through your device. Playing a game? Your device's screen can morph, creating a joystick and buttons. They are already targeting these type of touchscreens to be used in vehicles, where tactical feedback becomes important. Through this there is no need to take your eyes off the road to use the ever growing touchscreens found in cars. These touchscreens can also be used to benefit those with sight loss, creating braille on the fly.

To make this all happen researchers are using a heat-activated gel that is transparent and fluid at room temperature, but hardens into an opaque, defined shape when warmed. The team's "GelTouch" 7-inch prototype is fronted by a layer of this gel, with another layer of conductive film behind that. The film carries electrical current to discrete areas of the display, creating a variety of button layouts. You can find a video of the preliminary testing here.

GelTouch is far from being complete, but the potential of this technology transforming the way we interact with our devices is exciting.

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