You can think of the Synaptics ForcePad as a highly sensitive pressure plate for Ultrabooks and other thin and light devices. Rather than rely on mouse clicks like the majority of standard trackpads, the ForcePad detects up to 1000 grams of pressure from all five fingers and responds accordingly. This type of force detection technology has benefits that go beneath the surface.
If you thought Apple's iPhone and Motorola's Droid were slick, wait until you see what the smartphones of tomorrow might be capable of. That is, if Synaptics' FuseTM concept take off.
FuseTM is a collaborative mobile phone concept that integrates "for the first time" multiple interface technologies, including 3D graphics, capacitive multitouch, haptic feedback, and force, grip, and proximity sensing, Synaptics says.
Some of the technological tricks the company envisions is grip sensing by way of capacitive touch sensors on the sides of the phone, which would streamline certain controls such as pan and scroll; 2D navigation from the back of the phone, which Synaptics says enables single-handed control without blocking the display; and 3D graphics with haptic effects.
"Consumers have many options when it comes to choosing a smartphone, and though many phones are loaded with applications to simplify one's life, they often accomplish just the opposite," said William Stofega, research manager for mobile device technology and trends at IDC. "Synaptics partnering with innovative industry leaders to deliver an intelligent concept device that has the consumers' lifestyles in mind will help showcase the true potential of the smartphone."
You can view a short YouTube video demonstration of the Fuse concept here.
Synaptics hopes to take mobile touchscreen technology to a whole new level with the company's recently announced ClearPad 3000 Series. Unlike two-finger capable touchscreens, the ClearPad 3000's capacitive touch pad can track up to 10 simultaneous finger touches.
"By enabling more devices to have multi-finger gesture capabilities, our premium ClearPad 3000 Series opens the door for innovative software developers to push the edges of the user interface envelope by creating exciting new classes of applications -- such as multi-user gaming -- not possible before, giving OEMs greater flexibility to differentiate their products," said Tom Tiernan, Synaptics president and COO.
Synaptics says the ClearPad 3000 is based on new, proprietary technology featuring 48 sensing channels and advanced power management. The end result is support for larger screen sizes up to 8 inches diagonally in a thin, low-profile design. Synaptics also boasts a high level of accuracy.
The company plans to ship engineering samples for general release starting in November 2009, which means you may see some snazzy new multi-finger touchscreen devices just in time for the holidays.
Back in October 2008 Apple introduced the buttonless trackpad with their newest generation of MacBooks. Now, at long last, Synaptics is posed to bring them to smaller PC notebooks and netbooks.
At Computex Synaptics is currently demonstrating their implementation of the new trackpad, which they’re calling the ClickPad. Currently supported gestures include two-finger scrolling, two-finger PinchZoom, two-finger pivot rotate, three-finger flick, and three-finger press gestures (and, if you were worried about this type of thing – you can right-click by tapping down on the ClickPad with two fingers, as opposed to one).
This technology will be available to OEMs in Q3 of 2009.