Synaptics announced today that it is releasing three new touch-focused technologies for laptops and other mobile devices: ForcePad, ThinTouch, and ClearPad. The new components are timed to complement upcoming Windows 8 and Window 8 RT launches.

ThinTouch is an ultrathin keyboard for super-slim laptops or ultrabooks, and ClearPad is a component to enable touch sensitivity on screens as large at 17″.

But the most interesting new technology is ForcePad, which is a touchpad that incorporates variable force detection … meaning that laptop manufacturers will soon be able to build in functionalities that can react differently based on how hard you push that pad.


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Synaptics thinks it will be a big deal, saying the technology “literally redefines the human-computer interface.”

That’s a rather magnitudinous statement, but it certainly does add another dimension to touch, which currently has just two factors on most platforms: location and longevity.

Drawing is an obvious use case, but others exist. Setting sensitivities to ignore spurious touches would be one, and using a soft tap to select a document and a hard tap to open it might be another.

ClearPad is expected to ship in late 2012, while ForcePad is currently scheduled for a mid-2013 launch date. ThinTouch is in testing with PC manufacturers, but Synaptics did not release a shipping date.

Image credit: Realinemedia/ShutterStock


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