Microsoft filed an application with the US Patent Office last week for a tactile display technology they are calling the “Light-Induced Shape-Memory Polymer Display Screen”. Great…. so what is it?.
Such a display could generate small ridges and textures on its surface that could work as navigation guides. For instance, the display could provide a virtual keyboard that could give users the feel of an actual keyboard, the patent application states.
To make this happen, the display is made up of “shape-memory polymers” affected by ultraviolet light, and would contain a “topography-changing layer” which would change shape depending upon the ultraviolet light signals being received.
Presumably, the technology could be used as part of the Microsoft Surface systems, which are table-sized computers with large touchscreens that the company markets for interactive display duties.
“There would be no more reason for mobile keypads — they would simply be emulated when necessary,” said Patrick Baudisch, a University of Potsdam in Germany display interaction expert, in an interview with New Scientist magazine.
Much remains to be discovered with this upcoming technology, and seeing it actually hit the market, integrated with our favorite tablets and smart devices, is quite a way off. We’ll see what happens.