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Microsoft Experimenting With 'Tactile' Touchscreen

Microsoft has filed a new patent application related to a "tactile" touchscreen capable of shifting its shape in order to mimic a real keyboard.

According to New Scientist, Microsoft understands that, in general, users prefer the feedback of a standard keyboard for working on over a touchscreen and so has developed a unique technology that could allow a touch screen to become a physical keyboard by the touch of a button.

The software giant filed a patent yesterday, in which it proposes to deploy a layer of shape-memory plastic that would change the surface of the screen when hit with different wavelengths of ultraviolet light. The shape-memory plastic will be able to become hard and soft depending on the type of ultraviolet light shone at it.

The company is aiming the revolutionary technology at large touch screen devices like Microsoft Surface, rather than smartphones and tablets.

Display interaction expert at the University of Potsdam in Germany Patrick Baudisch, who worked on the Surface when the project first started, said: "Creating well-defined bumps on a touch surface is in many ways the holy grail of text entry on touch devices because it would enable touch typing at much faster speeds than on touchscreens today."