An OLED screen that allows buttons to organically slide up and down from its surface. Scientists have one Future Interface Group at the Carnegie Mellon University developed.
But how do these pop-up buttons work – and why could they change the way we use smartphones?
What do pop-up buttons do?
What is special about the technology is its haptic feedback. Instead of tactile controls on displays, as is usually the case, users can literally type in the dark. In other words: the keys can be felt.
Haptic feedback saves frustration, especially in fast-reacting applications, such as first-person shooters or typing text.
The potential of inflatable buttons
The possibilities of this technology go beyond smartphones or other touch screens of everyday use. Game controllers equipped with such inflatable elevations are conceivable.
How do pop-up buttons work?
- Smallest components: The technology required for this is so small that it can be pushed under an OLED panel.
- Installed components: With the technology so housed, protrusions appear along certain sections of the screen. In practice, this works via a liquid that is introduced (protrusion rises) or drained (protrusion lowers). The process for a keypad to rise takes about a second.
- Protruding Balloon Buttons: These protrusions (or buttons) protrude up to 1.5 millimeters and can therefore be felt with the fingertips.
What are Electroosmotic Pumps?
The technology behind it is called
Embedded Electroosmotic Pumps (EEOPs) – in German:
Embedded Electroosmotic Pumps. EEOPs are ubiquitous in our technological world; they are built into touchscreen devices such as smartphones. EEOPs consist of a thin layer of liquid pumps.
A demonstration of the research activities surrounding the EEOPs of the Future Interface Group can be admired in a four-minute video.
link to YouTube content
According to the scientists involved, their invention is thinner compared to similar uses of this technology. Another example of this technique is the Keyboard by Tactus.
The better balloon buttons
The scientists around
Future Interface Group summarize the benefits of their approach as follows:
- Compact form factor: the built-in EEOPs are just 5 millimeters thick
- Lightweight: the device should weigh less than 40 grams.
- Resistant: The built-in EEOPs should be strong enough to withstand constant typing, keying and hammering with fingertips.
What do you think are other areas of application for the technology behind the inflatable buttons? Do you think EEOPs are genius, or is it newfangled nonsense – after all, rotary telephony has peaked, right? Write us about it in the comments.