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Tactile touchscreens

Finally, some news about a patent that doesn’t concern Apple- Microsoft has just filed a patent for a touchscreen that uses technical tricks to convince users that they’re not just touching a flat screen. How is this achieved? Well, according to the patent, Microsoft will use pixel-sized shape-memory plastic cells that can be ordered to protrude from the surface on demand. So by just using lines of code, the texture of a screen can be changed instantly. This technology could be utilized to make touchscreen phones usable by the blind, and even to help regular people who still need some sort of tactile response when using a digital keypad. Different companies have tried coming up with something similar before and they were known as vibrotactile displays. They used voltages of different frequencies that trick our fingertips into experiencing different touch sensations but they had one major drawback- they were quite noisy. I guess that’s probably why they never really took off. Plus the idea of using voltages to create sensation sounds somewhat dangerous. What other uses can you think of for tactile touchscreens?

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