Tactus Technology said today that it has raised $6 million to develop its next-generation touch interface components for all sorts of touch-enabled devices.

The interface enables buttons to morph out of the surface of an electronic device. The physical buttons rise from the surface on demand, as needed, and then recede back into the screen, leaving a flat, transparent surface when gone. These physical buttons help someone get oriented and then confirm the location that they need to press in order to make something happen.

“Imagine if buttons grew out of your smartphone, tablet or dashboard to improve the user experience. You could rest your fingers on them, type or play games, and then have the buttons disappear when you are done,” explained Craig Ciesla, chief executive of Fremont, Calif.-based Tactus.

It works by using a “tactile layer,” which can be integrated with touchscreen devices such as smartphones, tablets, personal navigation system and gaming devices. The layer replaces the cover glass of the touchscreen and is about the same thickness of the layer it replaces. The size can be scaled from a mobile phone screen to a TV screen, and it uses minimal power. Button layouts and sizes can be customized.

Thomvest Ventures, a $150 million fund capitalized by Peter J. Thomson, led the investment. The money will let Tactus expand product development and ratchet up its operations to handle larger customers.

“Tactus has a unique technology that will bring real touch to touchscreens,” said Jonathan Barker of Thomvest Ventures. “People experience the world through touch, and given a choice, we are confident that people will prefer a truly tactile experience.”

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