Capacitive displays have become mainstream ever since Apple launched the first-generation iPhone in 2007. Apple did prove a point that having hardware buttons poised a challenge to smartphone makers since you can’t really change these buttons when another cool idea emerges years later. Sadly, the biggest challenge with a glass display is that you can’t really operate it without looking at it, so things like gaming can leave you with a cumbersome experience; something that Microsoft wants to fix.
Microsoft Research is currently working on a new technology that brings haptic feedback to computer, tablet and smartphone displays. Haptic feedback as you type on a display is common, but instead of having the whole smartphone vibrate, the vibrations intend to give the display a feel of texture. The idea is for you to be able to feel the separation between one key and the other, or between one texture in the device’s UI and another. Tests from Microsoft Research have already proven that people type faster and handle themselves with more confidence around a mobile device when this feature is enabled, though there is a lot of miniaturization left to do with these sensors.
It’s hard to predict how soon we’ll see this technology on mobile devices, but this is definitely a much smarter approach to a capacitive display than what Apple envisioned seven years ago. Microsoft is working on giving us at least one tablet prototype by early 2015.