This morning, Synaptics announced that its latest ClickPad has picked up an award from the Consumer Electronics Association. Version 2.0 of the clicky touchpad has a new hinge that's manufacturered by Synaptics instead of by device makers. The updated mechanism is intended to eliminate the "dead zones" found on some earlier ClickPad implementations. Synaptics tells us the ClickPad 2.0 should register clicks more consistently and ought to be more durable, as well.
Synaptics also says it's bolstered the touchpad's ability to detect inadvertent contact. The old approach relied solely on drivers to recognize unintentional contact, but the latest implementation moves much of the process into the touchpad's firmware. The firm claims this scheme, Dubbed TypeGuard, reduces "false cursor movement" by 74%.
Since the larger touchpads on modern notebooks are easier to hit accidentally, it's nice to see Synaptics beefing up its rejection routines.
Interestingly, Microsoft and Synaptics have been working together on a Precision TouchPad program designed to provide a uniform experience across multiple devices. The program combines Microsoft drivers with a set of hardware and performance requirements for touchpad makers. The first Synaptics implementation is already on the market in the keyboard dock for Dell's Venue 10 Pro tablet. Unfortunately, TypeGuard isn't part of the Precision TouchPad spec; it won't be available on machines with that are part of that program.
Synaptics is also moving forward with the force-sensitive touchpad it demoed for us last year. The company says the first consumer implentation of that technology is slated for introduction in a new system next month. However, the firm expects the ClickPad 2.0 to be much more widely adopted; it's already been deployed in the HP Spectre 13.
In the future, Synaptics plans to bring fingerprint recognition to its products. It acquired fingerprint sensor firm Validity Sensors earlier this month and is working on integrated solutions for both touchpads and touchscreens. Touch-sensitive screens remain a big part of Synaptics' business, of course. The company hopes eventually to create a touchscreen capable of recognizing fingerprints anywhere on its surface. In the near term, expect to see iPhone-like fingerprint sensors integrated into screen bezels and palm rests.