CES 2014: Synaptics Shows Off New Touch Tech
January 6, 2014 2:30 PM
From mobile to pressure sensitive scroll, synaptics is looking to put exciting twists on boring biometrics
2014 Computer Electronics Show
"Unveiled" press event at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada last night Synaptics Inc. (
) showed off new touch technologies that it hopes will allow it to maintain dominance of the PC market, while expanding its presence in mobile devices this year.
I. Going Driverless, Pressure Sensitive Touchpad Tech
According to Synaptic engineers and business people on hand, Synaptics touchpads today in roughly 70 to 80 percent of traditional personal computers. These touchpads today are growing more sophisticated by the year than their predecessors.
One of the biggest recent innovations has been the switch to driverless devices and advance being co-championed by Microsoft Corp. (
). With its latest laptop touchpads a tiny onboard ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) handles all the responsibilities directly that drivers would have done. The tiny chip even interfaces with connected networks via the motherboard bus to updates its internal firmware.
Synaptics touchpads are found in 70 to 80 percent of laptops, according to company officials. [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]
This approach removes the burden of maintenance from the user and helps Synaptics deliver its advances to customers faster.
The ASIC includes advanced algorithms to filter out accidental palm press from actual attempts to mvoe the mouse -- a major problem that anyone who has owned a laptop in the past decade has likely run into. Synaptics says there's no silver bullet for filtering out unwanted touches, but that it is commited to steady, yearly continuous improvement.
Among the new features shown off on the PC side included a pressure sensitive two finger-scroll gesture. Similar to the Wacom Comp., Ltd. (
) Bamboo art/design tablets, this feature offers pressure sensitive funcitonality, only this time it's using your finger instead of a stylus. The gesture felt quite natural in my test of it.
II. Creeping Into Mobile
In the mobile space Apple, Inc.'s (
stole the show with its fingerprint sensor in
the iPhone 5S
. But Synaptics quietly pushed product into the mobile space as well, including being featured as the fingerprint sensor onboard the HTC Corp. (
One Max phablet
, the first major Android device to feature fingerprint authentication.
A Synaptics sensor drives the fingerprint biometric sensor in the HTC One Max.
Synaptics officials say that despite the litigious atmosphere surrounding the smartphone space they weren't overly concerned with lawsuits as they own more touch-related intellectual property than anyone in the market other than Apple (who largely did not develop its IP itself, but
acquired it from Authentec, FingerWorks, etc.
no fingerprint sensopr is entirely secure
, but it says that the sensors offer a fair tradeoff of price versus security.
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