Microsoft, seeing an opportunity in the very young and undefined “tactile touchscreen” space, has filed a patent for pixel-sized plastic cells that can give a sense of touch and feel to tomorrow’s touchscreen devices.
These displays, while still a ways off from the consumer space, are nothing new, of course. Competing technologies from Nokia, Carnegie Melon and Senseg have been touted by tech blogs like this one already.
Microsoft, for its part, hopes to differentiate its offering by way of UV light. When different wavelengths of light strike the plastic cells, they change shape (to become buttons on a keyboard, perhaps).
For now, Microsoft is not commenting on the patent or how it might be used in the future. The only tidbit that was available was a comment made by inventor Erez Kikin-Gil in the patent filing. According to his remarks, the technology would most likely be implemented in Microsoft’s table-sized Surface technology, and not in phones or tablets. [New Scientist]