Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed sensor feedback technology that features buttons that pop out from a touch-screen surface. The technology retains the dynamic display capabilities of touch screens, but also provides tactile buttons for certain functions.
CMU professor Scott Hudson and graduate student Chris Harrison built several proof-of-concept displays with pop-out buttons. The screens are covered in a semi-transparent latex, which covers an acrylic plate with shaped holes and an air chamber connected to a pump. The pump can create positive or negative pressure to form concave or convex features around the cutouts. Projectors are used to illuminate the screens, and infrared lights and cameras positioned below the surface sense where the user touches the screen.
Harrison says the display is the first to combine moving parts, display dynamic information, and be touch sensitive. Furthermore, because the system is pressurized, pressure information can be used as an input. For example, if the device was being used as an MP3 player, a person could press a button harder to scan through songs or radio stations faster. Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Rob Miller says this type of interface would work well in car dashboards, since driving requires staying focused on the road and not looking to see which button to push.
From Technology Review
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