Tactus Technology is introducing a unique, new keyboard case today called Phorm that promises to bring tactile feedback to the typing experience while still using the on-screen touch keyboard. Phorm uses microfluids to raise a segments of a screen protector kept on with a frame and protective case to apply “physical” keys that appear and disappear at the swipe of switch. The goal is to improve typing speed and accuracy when typing with the iPad without requiring a keyboard you have to charge or pair with your tablet. Check out the video below to see Phorm in action.

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While I have not had the opportunity to go hands-on with the Phorm case for iPad, the idea of being able to add and remove buttons from the display without assembling and removing another accessory is certainly novel.

Phorm combines a durable tablet case with a special screen protector that features bubble-like buttons that can raise up or flatten to disappear by sliding a panel on the back of the case. The use of the slider allows the case to hide the buttons just like you hide the iPad’s on-screen keyboard when not in use.

Engineered by the industrial design firms behind the Beats by Dre products, Phorm has the power to transform the way we interact with all of the screens in our lives, by finally making the touchscreen physically tactile and easy to use. Microfluidic technology activates optically-clear buttons with just a simple slider bar on the back of the case. The buttons rise above the screen and guide your fingers to the optimal touch zone on your device’s keyboard, improving accuracy, confidence, satisfaction, and the overall typing experience.

While the Phorm case adds tactile feedback to typing for use in portrait mode, it’s not designed to support tactile typing for landscape typing with the larger keyboard. The case is also only designed for use with Apple’s stock keyboard, obviously, and not guaranteed to align correctly with third party keyboards now available thanks to iOS 8. According to the company, though, Phorm has been “tested with the iOS, Swiftkey, Swype and Fleksy keyboards.”

Phorm iPad

Tactus is only targeting the 7.9-inch iPad mini with its first run of Phorm cases for Apple hardware while Phorm keyboard case won’t yet support the 9.7-inch iPad lineup, but that includes all three generations of the iPad mini. Anyone interested in Phorm for other devices including the iPhone 6 and iPad Air can vote on the company’s website.

Tactus is currently taking pre-orders at GetPhorm.com for the iPad mini version with cases available in slate gray and sky gray. The Phorm case is planned to retail for $149 when it debuts, but pre-orders are available starting today for $99. Following a 30-day pre-order period, Tactus plans to begin shipping the Phorm case this summer.

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