Tactus Technology has introduced a new tactile touch-screen interface featuring physical buttons that rise and fall based on changes in the otherwise entirely digital interface.
The buttons are both "application-controlled" and "completely transparent," something the company hopes will please users who prefer physical keyboards but also want the benefits of a full touch screen.
The idea was presented during the Society for Information Display's (SID) Display Week 2012 conference in Boston earlier this week.
According to Tactus CEO Craig Ciesla, the company saw a desire for such a technology that is based on basic human instincts.
"As human beings, we really want to be able to feel things," Ciesla told The Verge. "We really want that tactility. The vision for Tactus is that our technology has the ability to be the next-generation user interface really anywhere you see a touchscreen."
Although the technology is still being tested and not yet ready for the consumer market, the benefits of such an interface could extend beyond simple convenience.
MedGadget notes that the technology could be highly useful for people with visual impairments, who might one day be able to read Braille on their touchscreen phones or tablets.
And though the the idea of tailoring touch-screen electronics to the needs of the visually impaired isn't new, the use of what The Verge calls "microfluidic technology" could represent a major step forward in what has thus far been a largely untrodden path.
Ciesla projects the first tactile touch-screen products will be available in 2013, according to the above video.
Watch the video above to learn more about the product.