Phorm emerges the physical keyboard out of the screen to overlay the touchscreen keyboard

The Blackberry keyboard was so successful it has inspired several other innovations in the keyboards field especially for mobile phones, tablets and other gadgets. It was only a few years ago when the physical keyboard was the creme de la creme of the typing experience, and while all that happened, Blackberry’s physical keyboard was at the center of it. We are almost hitting a decade ever since the highs of that type of keyboard but for so many people the keyboard, though now killed by ambitious touchscreen innovations, still remains at heart. Tactus happens to be one of those companies inspired by Blackberry’s keyboard and they have gone even further to try to bring that to life. Not in the way you would think they would have done it, of course not.

We have seen people reinventing the Blackberry keyboard to bring it back to life. Even Blackberry have tried to reinvent their own keyboard, but so far, it stays dead. Phorm is what Tactus is promising as the best chance to bring a physical keyboard back to life, but only when you need to use it. Which is a good way of putting it. I must say they have a really good chance Tactus. Imagine having a physical keyboard rise from your screen right when you need one? It is an unusually creative way of presenting the keyboard.

You get Phorm as a case for your iPhone or iPad. So far, the case has been developed for Apple’s devices and it is not clear whether this will be developed for other phones.

Tactus co-founders Dr. Craig Ciesla and Dr. Micah Yairi have spent the last few years working on a technology that generates physical keys from a completely flat surface like what we have on our phones and tablets to give you a smooth and unbroken flat surface for general touch-based interaction, and a physical keyboard when you need one. The company’s innovation uses a microfluidic panel to achieve its magic, routing liquid through invisible channels to expand specific areas of the top layer of a touch panel, producing protrusions and bumps where previously there were none.

They’re essentially touch-capable ridges that suggest the location of the device’s keyboard (in portrait orientation) and have a little bit of give on finger press. But they provide a lot more presence than a flat display for typing by touch alone, and of course they disappear completely when not in use. For people who so much loved the physical keyboard, this proves that when the real physical keyboard is gone there will still be hope. Mass production of the keyboard built within a case will begin in Summer 2015 and the company promises the prices will be nowhere near premium so they will probably give it an average market price.


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