Touchscreen Tech: Going Beyond Touch

Touchscreens have advanced considerably over the last few years. Who can forget the almost magical experience of seeing Apple’s iPhone for the first time back in 2007 with its multi-touch gestures? Since then, touchscreens have continued to advance, and at Acante, we’re always keeping a close eye on the latest developments in touchscreen tech.

We’ve just heard about an exciting new development that could well change how we all interact with touchscreens in the future. Let’s have a look.

Touchscreen Tech Is Going 3D

It was recently reported that researchers at the Intelligent Material Systems Lab at Saarland University (Germany), led by Professor Stefan Seelecke, have created a new type of touch experience. This new touchscreen tech essentially adds a ‘third dimension’ to touchscreens.

It uses a very thin and lightweight silicon film that can easily change position and shape, and it can create a range of different touch sensations. For example, one sensation feels like a pushing motion, while another produces a quick pulse or a longer vibration at a specific location on the screen.

How It Works

This new touchscreen tech makes use of some advanced tech to produce these results. The thin film acts as a membrane, and a layer of electrically conducting material is then printed onto this. A voltage can then be applied to the film to generate 3D sensations.

This gives touchscreens the ability to add vibrating buttons that can appear at any point on the screen. The vibrating sensations can also guide a finger to one of these ‘virtual’ buttons, which can be created or removed when needed.

By simply moving a finger over the screen, the user can feel a pulsing sensation where the button appears. They could also follow a vibrating signal across the screen that leads them to the button.

How Could This Be Used?

There could be a whole number of applications for this new touchscreen tech in the future. At its most basic level, it could make it easier to navigate menus on any kind of touchscreen, from mobile phones to kiosks. It could also have applications in computer games and sat-nav.

The technology was exhibited at the Hannover Messe (Hannover Fair) in April, and according to Professor Seelecke, it could be used in applications like a ‘motorless pump’ or for ‘embossed surface recognition’.

Is This the Future of Touchscreens?

At Acante, we know just how fast touchscreen tech develops, and we always ensure we are up to date with developments on the latest industry news so that our own touchscreens include all the latest advances.

It’s difficult to say exactly where the technology will go in the years (and decades) to come, but developments like this latest one from the team at Saarland University give us a glimpse at where the technology could take us.

And while it is just an exciting prototype for now, who knows – one day you might well be using it on your smartphone without a second thought.