Unflattening Touch Screen Buttons

24 11 2009

Ever wish the flat touch screen buttons on your phone felt more like physical buttons?

Chris Harrison and Prof. Scott Hudson at Carnegie Mellon have developed a simple technology that turns touch screen buttons into physical buttons by using pneumatics.

The technology consists of a flexible surface area with a hard backing that acts as a mask for the button shapes.  An air chamber behind the backing can be pressurized or depressurized using pneumatic technology, in this case fan-based pumps.

When positive pressure is applied, the buttons pop out.  When the pressure is neutral, the screen is flat.  When negative pressure is applied, the buttons pop inwards.

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