Synaptics has rolled out technology it hopes will be a force to be reckoned with in the mobile computing world. It's called ForcePad and it's the company's next generation of TouchPad solutions.
ForcePad is a multi-finger, capacitive TouchPad with what Synaptics calls variable force detection and a large "modern touchpad" gesture area.
Synaptics said its ForcePad would redefine touch interaction for notebook and desktop PC users. Analysts said Synaptics is not just blowing smoke with its latest innovation.
ForcePad adds a new dimension of control by leveraging capacitive image sensing technology that detects the pressure of five fingers with up to 1,000 grams of dynamic range in force sensitivity. The company said ForcePad's ability to detect varying amounts of pressure per finger enables new usage paradigms in virtually every software genre.
Godfrey Cheng, vice president of marketing for Synaptics PC Division, said ForcePad is the most significant development in technology since Synaptics invented the first TouchPad in 1995.
Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, got hands-on with the new technology and told us it performed "beautifully."
"ForcePad has five dimensions, not just XYZ. It also has F for force and W for width, so it actually has measures for how much finger pad you are actually encountering and how hard you touched it," Kay said.
"Synaptics has taken the X-Y grid of transmitters and receivers and they've put them on the same plane on the glass substrate. You can change the pressure of your fingers while they are on the pad and you can watch those columns moving up and down. They move immediately when you change any pressure at all. It's very rapid feedback."
ForcePad features a universal auto-calibration capability for adjusting to varying notebook designs with variable flex tolerances. There are no mechanical hinges or tactile button switches. According to the company, it can maintain consistent performance through the notebook product life, as well as a consistent experience across different OEM chassis makes and models.
For all these reasons, Synaptics calls ForcePad ideal for the Ultrabook trend because it is up to 40 percent thinner than ClickPads. That translates to thinner and lighter Ultrabooks. The company also said ForcePad is suited for the fast and fluid Windows 8 touch experience because it adds a new dimension of control to the user's interaction.
"Synaptics has reimagined the notebook and timed these innovative solutions with the Ultrabook and Windows 8 design cycle," said Tim Bajarin, president at Creative Strategies. "Synaptics pioneered the original TouchPad, evolved it to the Image Sensing buttonless ClickPad, and now introduces the ForcePad with an array of touchscreen and ThinTouch capacitive keyboard solutions that redefines what is possible" in human-computer interaction.