Microsoft files patent for shape-shifting and light-sensitive touchscreens
Microsoft is working on touchscreens that wouldn't simply lay flat -- as many smart phones and tablet computers do now -- but would offer displays that rise up and change shape to simulate textures and objects in different apps.
The shape-shifting touchscreen technology was disclosed by Microsoft in a patent application describing just how the company is working to bring textures to touchscreens.
In the filing, Microsoft said its concept is to use pixel-sized plastic cells that could move up from the surface of a touchscreen to allow it to actually change shape and simulate different textures and ridges.
The Redmond, Wash., tech giant also said in the filing that it is looking at incorporating the use of UV light into its textured-display efforts.
Such ultraviolet-light-sensitive touchscreens would be capable of changing shape as the displays come into different wavelengths of light.
Microsoft's Erez Kikin-Gil wrote in the filing that the technology is being developed for use in the company's coffee-table-sized tablet computer, known as the Surface, and not for touchscreens on smart phones or smaller, portable tablets.
The Surface tablets are usually sold to schools and businesses for about $5,000 and are on display in the company's Microsoft Stores.
Microsoft officials were unavailable for comment Monday morning.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Students at UC San Diego check out a satellite photo of China on Microsoft's Surface touchscreen computer as Microsoft officials were at the university looking for prospective recruits on Oct. 10, 2008. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times