Microsoft pioneers tactile display technology

Microsoft has patented a display technology that shifts under the user's touch

Possibly leapfrogging today's touch-screen technologies, Microsoft has figured out a way to make the computer displays themselves change in shape under a person's touch.

Microsoft filed an application last week with the U.S. patent office for a tactile display technology it calls a "Light-Induced Shape-Memory Polymer Display Screen."

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 itself would contain a "topography-changing layer" comprised of something called shape-memory polymers, which change shape depending on the ultraviolet light signal received. The system would require a topography-changing engine to supply the light signals.

Erez Kikin-Gil, a Microsoft senior user experience designer, is listed as inventor of the technology.

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.

Industry observers have noted that the technology, at least in theory, would also be feasible on smaller devices.

"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.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the technology.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftlegalpopular scienceintellectual propertypatentdisplaysComponents

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?