If a recent patent grab by no one other than Apple is anything to go by then we could soon see “physical” keyboards on smartphone displays, or at least we will have the sensation that they are there.
While less developed haptic feedback systems are already available on some smartphones today, this more advanced haptic feedback technology will literally put a physical keyboard on, or perhaps, in the display. Current haptic feedback systems are mostly limited to things like the phone vibrating when a character is entered.
Apple's way to achieve this appears to include a flexible OLED display and piezoelectric actuators that actually alter the contour of the display. This system would then be activated dependant on the usage context, if you're wanting to text someone, then a physical keyboard will magically appear on-screen. Once you're done bragging about how awesome your new phone is, the display's surface will return to being flat.
KitGuru says: This doesn't appear to be your typical patent-whore type of patent, this is something that could seriously revolutionize the smartphone.