Synaptics Showcases ClickPad 2.0 and TypeGuard Technology for Touchpads

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 19, 2013 - 11:36 AM |
Tagged: typeguard, synaptics, clickpad 2.0, clickpad

Human interface solutions developer Synaptics, makers of touchpads, touchscreens and touch interpretation software, are showcasing a pair of new technologies today that will be included in upcoming notebooks and Ultrabooks this holiday.  ClickPad 2.0 improves the company's design and mechanical implementation on the first iterations of ClickPad while TypeGuard aims to improve recognition of false input from users to improve performance and experience.  Even better, this combination has been recognized as a CES Innovation 2104 Design and Engineering Award honoree

In 2010 Synaptics released the ClickPad, a solution for hardware vendors that included the design and manufacture of the entire touchpad solution.  This was a shift for the company that had previously done product licensing and custom solutions for specific vendors.  There were some issues with the technology in its 1.0 and 1.5 iterations that prevented users from clicking near the top of the touchpad, for example, as well as the new wrinkle of Windows 8 gestures that weren't implemented perfectly. 

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With ClickPad 2.0, Synaptics claims to have addressed all of these issues including top and corner clicking capability as well making the feel of the click consistent no matter where the user might push down on the pad.  Window 8 gestures can now be support by a separate, but integrated, side-pad integration option.  The sides of the touch pad would be textured differently and only function as gesture controls, leaving the entirety of the touchpad face for primary input functionality. 

TypeGuard is a set of software algorithms that improves false inputs that might occur during use of a laptop.  Palm rejection while typing is one of the biggest annoyances for users that are frequently writing on their notebooks and with TypeGuard Synaptics claims to nearly completely remove false cursor movements, taps and scrolls.

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As touchpads become larger, palm contact is going to be much more likely on notebooks and preventing these kinds of accidental inputs is going to be crucial to providing a good experience for the consumer.  Apple has long been considered the leader in this area (and with touchpads in general) but Synaptics believes it has matched them with this combination of ClickPad 2.0 and TypeGuard.  Doing its own in-house studies has revealed a 73% decrease in false movements but we will obviously need our own hands on time with an integrated product to see how it acts over extended use.

The good news is that might be pretty soon.  The HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook actually implements both of these technologies and is available for preorder in various locations.

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HP will be offering this machine for $999 with a 128GB SSD, 4GB of memory, Intel Haswell processors and Windows 8.1.  I am hoping to get one of these units in for a review and to use it to evaluate the strong claims that Synaptics is making about its new touch technologies.

As a frequent user of Apple portable devices, the touch experience on them has always exceeded that of the Windows environment and I'm hopeful that we can finally level the playing field. 

See the full CES Innovation award press release after the break!

Punchable laptops? The Synaptics ForcePad

Subject: General Tech | August 23, 2012 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: input, trackpad, synaptics, forcepad

We've been hearing about Synaptics ForcePad, a new type of touchpad which can register the amount force used when pushing down on trackpad and using that for alternate functions depending on how hard you push.  The Tech Report actually had a chance to try out the ForcePad on a demonstration model at Synaptics.  They report that while initially a little odd to get used to, as the ForcePad does not feel different when pressed harder, once they became accustomed to it they really liked its functionality.  As well this technology will do away with the phantom clicks caused if the chassis warps a little because you are holding onto a corner and may also help with those times an arm hair brushes against the touchpad while you are typing causing your cursor to go a-wandering.  As far as The Tech Report are concerned, the ForcePad, ThinTouch keyboard, and Series 4 ClearPad are all worth looking forward to.

TR_force.jpg

"Next year, Synaptics' ForcePad will bring pressure sensitivity to touchpads. It can track five fingers independently, each with up to a kilogram of effective force in precise 15-gram increments. We got our hands on the ForcePad, among the company's other new input tech. We also fingered the ultra-slim ThinTouch keyboard, recently acquired through the purchase of Pacinian. It combines secretive switches with a side order of capacitive touch, and the keys feel as good as those of the MacBook Pro. For an encore, we've captured the latest in low-latency touchscreen tech on our high-speed camera."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Synaptics Announces New TouchPads And Keyboards

Subject: Mobile | August 22, 2012 - 12:51 AM |
Tagged: touchpad, synaptics, notebook, laptop, keyboard

forcepad.jpg

The march towards thinner laptops has challenged computer manufacturers in a number of ways. When designing a laptop that’s just three-quarters of an inch thin or thinner, everything matters. Even the size of thickness of a keyboard or touchpad makes a big difference.

Synaptics is responding to these design realities with the introduction of new user interfaces. One is the ForcePad, a new type of touchpad that is capable of measuring the precise amount of force the user inputs. This makes it possible to drop physical left/right mouse buttons entirely, reducing maximum thickness from 5mm to 3mm. It also provides additional input which can be harnessed by software for precise control.

The company is also introducing a new keyboard design called ThinTouch. This keyboard redesigns (or rather, eliminates) the keyboard switch to reduce overall thickness by 30 to 50 percent without sacrificing an optional backlight. The keyboard is also force sensitive, which means that users can activate alternate characters by pressing harder instead of using the Shift key.

thintouch.jpg

Both new technologies are interesting, though also potentially problematic. Of concern is the lack of key travel in the ThinTouch design, which is evident in the picture above. There’s little movement in the key, which makes me wonder what typing on this keyboard is like. I’d wager it’s not the best experience. I find it very odd that a company responsible for designing user interface elements for a laptop would seek to reduce one of the laptop’s most noticeable advantages over a tablet – a tactile keyboard.

With that said, I'm sure these devices will make their way to ultrabooks in short order. Reducing the size of the keyboard and touchpad will allow for a larger battery and/or better cooling. The battery life increase will be of particular use to OEMs, who see battery life as a nice, easy figure that can be used in marketing materials. A better battery can be explained with a handful of words. Explaining a better keyboard takes more time.

No release dates or launch products have been detailed yet. We'll probably hear more at CES 2013.

Source: Synaptics