Touch-Device Tactile Overlay




Remember how you could play the first levels of that old-school, 8-bit platform game (which starred an Italian plumber) with your eyes closed? Have you noticed that you can't do the same thing on your touch device?

Touch devices has done much for gaming, but something's still missing: namely, the buttons. Sure, you can still see buttons, but they are only virtual, so you can't feel them anymore.

Sure, we humans have muscle memory, so it's possible to know exactly where the buttons are located, but it takes a lot of time and practice to learn the locations. But what if it would be possible to make the virtual buttons real again, so you could feel them under your finger tips?

This Instructable tries to remedy this touching matter by showing you how to add a transparent overlay to the touchscreen so in-game buttons can be both seen and felt. As usual, we'll be experimenting on our own game: Mad Skills Motocross 2.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Preparation

You need the following things:

  • a touch device with your favorite game installed on it (we've used Mad Skills Motocross 2, but the first one will work too!)
  • a hole puncher (because it's hard to cut small circles using scissors)
  • the cheapest clear screen protector you can find (the model doesn't matter)
  • some patience

Step 2: Empty the Hole Puncher

Empty the hole puncher, You will regret skipping this step. Trust me. (Ever heard the expression about a "needle in a haystack"? It applies here too.)

Step 3: Punch Out Some Circular Thingies

If you hold the hole puncher upside down, you will easily see where to cut. Don't be too economical, though. The hole puncher may jam if you cut too close to the edge. One sheet should be enough for about five to ten devices anyway.

Punch out a pair of circles or so to use in the next step.

Step 4: Apply to Screen

Now it's time to apply the film to the screen.

It is done just like you usually apply screen protectors. Something like:

  1. clean the screen
  2. remove mask (if any)
  3. place where you want it
  4. apply some pressure and remove air bubbles if needed

Repeat the punching and applying of the small disks until you have a plastic part on top of each and every virtual button.

Step 5: Result

When you're finished, it should look something like this.

You may not be able to play with your eyes closed, but at least you won't lose the button positions as easily anymore!

Step 6: Share With Your Friends (optional)

Even if some of your circles manage to escape, you should still have plenty to share with a friend or ten.

Disclaimer: This procedure may make it harder to read text on the device (see the second picture), but who does that anymore? Priorities, people!

Be the First to Share


    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Multi-Discipline Contest

      Multi-Discipline Contest
    • Robotics Contest

      Robotics Contest

    18 Discussions


    5 years ago

    if you take the rubber domes from an old keyboard and lay them on the screen, you get real tactic feedback.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    oh my gosh! That is absolutely BRILLIANT! How did I not think of that?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    The worst thing about touch screen "buttons", is that you have to hover your fingers over the screen then touch. Good idea.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome idea! Where was this when I was playing my gba emulator?!? XD


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Or just buy something that's already made, with additional shapes you can't cut with a hole punch...

    2 replies

    5 years ago

    cool idea! Instead of a screen protector, Walmart sells a clear weather proofing tape for windows that is very similar to screen protectors (This one: Alternately if you know anyone who works at an automotive tint shop, ask if they can grab you any scraps of paint protection film or window tinting stuff.