Phorm, a case and screen protector developed by Tactus Inc. that morphs on demand to create a physical keyboard, will ship to stores in August. Available for the iPad Mini at a preorder price of $99 since February, iPhone, iPad and other versions are currently in the works.
"One of the the top three issues with smartphones and tablets today is the slipping and sliding that results from trying to type on a flat-screen surface," said RK Parthasarathy, head of sales at Tactus.
His company's solution is a keyboard that bubbles up in classic Qwerty formation from the Phorm touchscreen through the activation of microfluids stored in the hardware case. Slide the switch and buttons appear when you need to type, slide it back when you're done and they disappear. It's mechanical, so no power is used.
"The raised keyboard allows you to take your eyes off the keyboard and focus on the content of your message," said Parthasarathy, who cites a long list applications for the tactile button guides ranging from gaming to writing among the visually impaired.
The Phorm iPad Mini case is available here in sky gray or slate gray.