Microsoft files patent for next-generation tactile touchscreen

Microsoft has filed a patent for the touchscreen of tomorrow, where you can actually touch what is being displayed. Well, sort of.

The tactile touchscreen patent works by tricking you into thinking you are touching what you can see, rather than just touching the flat display area.

Using a similar, but more advanced, technique than the voltage frequency varying tech currently in development from the likes of Nokia and Disney Research, Microsoft's method involves, "using a layer of shape-memory plastic placed above a large touchscreen to distort the surface of the screen when different wavelengths of ultraviolet light strike the pixels from beneath".

The patent is supposedly more applicable for larger display areas, such as Microsoft's Surface, than for smartphones or tablets.

When Pocket-lint spoke to Claude Zellweger, creative director of industrial design agency One & Co, earlier this year, he told us that "the holy grail of industrial design is creating something that is both hard and soft" before explaining how Electrorheological fluid technology could lead to a touchscreen display with an electrical charge that could make virtual keys seem more abrasive to touch.

And this seems to be the path that the Microsoft patent points towards.

Patrick Baudisch, display interaction expert from the University of Potsdam in Germany 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"

Apart from typing, we're also very excited by the prospect of touching digital media. Particularly if we get our hands on the Playboy Archive Hard Drive that we reported on earlier.

Microsoft doesn't comment on its patents, so it's all eyes on the Redmond lab in the hope for further updates.