Japanese overlay adds tactile D-Pad and buttons to iPhone

If you're thrilled at the quality of iPhone and iPod touch arcade games, but struggle with the on-screen touch controls, often missing a direction or button at a crucial moment, then you'll be thrilled to know that some company is doing something about it.

At Pocket-lint, we firmly believe that smartphones are rapidly becoming valid competitors for handheld games consoles, maybe even successors. However, no matter how intuitive the controls are on an iPhone game, we still find it harder to play without a tactile D-pad and real buttons to press.

Japanese company Hermitage Nouso has released a product, though, that adds a D-pad and buttons. Tactile+Plus consists of two simple overlays made from conductive PET material; one for directions, the other for the buttons.

The material is the same as used with screen protectors, so will similarly transmit finger presses to the capacitive screen. And, because they are raised, you can feel their location without having to constantly look away from the action. Job done.

Unfortunately, we've not heard of any coming over to the UK yet, but you can bet that they'll be on their way. In the meantime, Japanese website Game Watch has published a hands-on, detailing the benefits (and pitfalls) to their application and use.

Those who can't speak Japanese can get the gist by translating with Google.

Great idea or not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...