Windows 8's finger-friendly Metro interface supports all kinds of multi-touch gestures, but you won't need a tablet to take advantage. At the Microsoft Ecosystem Summit in Taipei this week, Synaptics is demonstrating some very slick Win8 gestures on a touchpad. Officially dubbed a ClickPad due to its lack of discrete buttons, the touchpad is said to be capable of tracking up to 10 fingers simultaneously.
Keeping track of that many digits requires a touchpad area of at least 3.9" x 2.2" (100 x 56 mm). Synaptics also claims that its InterTouch interface is an essential ingredient. Old-school PS/2 touchpad interfaces can only register four finger contact points and track two fingers in real time, the company says, but InterTouch uses "existing industry standard, higher-speed bus interfaces"—my money's on USB. InterTouch is apparently an open architecture that other touchpad makers are free to use.
So, how does it all work? I'm glad you asked, because Synaptics has posted a video that we've embedded below.
Rather than emulating a mouse, the ClickPad essentially behaves as a touchscreen. The finger tracking looks smooth, and there's an intuitiveness to some of Metro's gestures that really shines through. I'm not sure this kind of touchpad behavior is going to fly when poking around on the desktop, though. As slick as the gestures look, I'd like to be able to switch to a traditional touchpad mode for detail-oriented work like document or image editing.