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View Full Version : Synaptics ClearPad Technology, Fingerworks, iPhone?




MacRumors
Jan 15, 2007, 08:14 PM
http://www.macrumors.com/images/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com)

MacRumors reported on the Synaptics ClearPad technology (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2006/08/20060822150105.shtml) in August when Synaptics announced a concept phone (Onyx (http://www.synaptics.com/onyx/)) based on their new "ClearPad" technology. The ClearPad is a capacitive touch screen (much like laptop trackpads) that offers these advantages:

ClearPad is based on Synaptics' proprietary sensing technology, and will offer unique capabilities such as two finger input, proximity sensing, text entry and high resolution finger input that can dramatically improve and enhance the user experience with a touch screen.

Readers will note that many of these features are identical to Apple's iPhone screen technology. Synaptics recently demoed the Onyx phone demo (video) (http://news.com.com/1606-12994_3-6150132.html?tag=ne.video.6150150) at CES and described some of the relevant features.

One unique aspect to it is the completely flat face of the device - like the iPhone. Most existing touch sensitive screens that use resistive technology which requires an elevated bezel surrounding the touch screen. While this new technology gives the iPhone a sleek look, one disadvantage (or advantage?) to the capacitive touch screen is (much like your laptop trackpad) it is only sensitive to skin touch. This behavior was mentioned (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2007/01/20070114161236.shtml) by David Pogue in his list of iPhone FAQs ("[The screen responds] ONLY to skin touch").

So does the iPhone use Synaptics' ClearPad technology? Gearlog indicates (http://www.gearlog.com/2007/01/the_real_brains_behind_the_iph.php) that Synaptics has not officially commented one way or the other, and Apple certainly isn't saying.

It's certainly possible that Apple has developed similar technology on its own. Last year we reported (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2006/03/20060310015335.shtml) on Apple's touch-screen research as well as Apple's acquisition of a company known as FingerWorks (http://www.fingerworks.com) who had done significant development in multitouch input devices (iGesture Pad (http://www.macrumors.com/c.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fingerworks.com%2Figesture_tech.html&t=1168842674)). According to individuals close to the company, Apple had acquired the technology and Fingerworks founders Wayne Westerman and John Elias have since been working for Apple.

Despite closing for business in 2005, it appears that Fingerworks (Westerman and Elias) filed (http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=0&f=S&l=50&TERM1=Fingerworks&FIELD1=AS&co1=AND&TERM2=&FIELD2=&d=PG01) a number of patent applications in July of 2006 describing multi-touch input methods:

Apparatus and methods are disclosed for simultaneously tracking multiple finger and palm contacts as hands approach, touch, and slide across a proximity-sensing, multi-touch surface. Identification and classification of intuitive hand configurations and motions enables unprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device.

Regardless of whether or not Synaptics is the supplier for the iPhone itself, analysts see (http://ce.seekingalpha.com/article/23905) high demand for Synaptics from industry competitors who will try to mimic the iPhone interface. According to MobilityToday (http://mobilitytoday.com/news/007367/onyx_project), Synaptics' ClearPad technology will become available to OEMs "by the end of the year."



quigleybc
Jan 15, 2007, 08:25 PM
No matter who develops this technology, I love it. More please. :)

whw5
Jan 15, 2007, 08:25 PM
ahh well, wont be long before a flood of cheap imitations of the iphone.

Chaszmyr
Jan 15, 2007, 08:35 PM
Steve Jobs seemed pretty confident of Apple's patents on the multi-touch interface (Which he presumably wouldn't if Synaptics actually held the patents). I see a legal battle coming between Synaptics and Apple.

azraq27
Jan 15, 2007, 08:38 PM
This post makes it seem like the screen only responding to fingers is a bad thing. I think for a phone, that's a great idea -- no way I'm going to dial anything in my pocket by bumping into a table

arn
Jan 15, 2007, 08:40 PM
This post makes it seem like the screen only responding to fingers is a bad thing. I think for a phone, that's a great idea -- no way I'm going to dial anything in my pocket by bumping into a table

quite true. I changed the article.

arn

SeaFox
Jan 15, 2007, 08:43 PM
This post makes it seem like the screen only responding to fingers is a bad thing. I think for a phone, that's a great idea -- no way I'm going to dial anything in my pocket by bumping into a table
On the other hand (pun intended), you can't stick your hands in your pocket while walking down the street. This might be an issue if you had your keys in your pocket, too (but no one would have their keys in their pocket with an iPhone). :eek:

Agamemnon
Jan 15, 2007, 08:45 PM
How about for women who have nails? Acrylic or otherwise... Did Apple make a sexist phone? Not saying, just saying... :rolleyes:

Stella
Jan 15, 2007, 08:55 PM
Just what the consumer needs.

Cheaper, and more functional versions of the iPhone.

I'm all for it. Competition is good.

BillyShears
Jan 15, 2007, 09:13 PM
This post makes it seem like the screen only responding to fingers is a bad thing. I think for a phone, that's a great idea -- no way I'm going to dial anything in my pocket by bumping into a table

But the phone should be "locked" when it's in your pocket, anyway. It can only be "unlocked" by sliding your finger along the bottom of the screen. (This was demoed in the keynote, I think.)

Video demonstration (http://images.apple.com/movies/us/apple/iphone/300/homepage_iphone_unlock_f9_20070109.mov)

Digital Skunk
Jan 15, 2007, 09:16 PM
What if you have gloves on and it is freezing outside? :confused:

I would hate to have to take my gloves off to answer my phone.. Or maybe I won't answer it.

On the touch tech stuff... hopefully this means that there will be a lot more imitation cell phones with touch tech like the iPhone. Competition breeds innovation. And Apple needs to start pushing this iPhone before it even comes out. Get off of Cingular and spread the phone around the other providers. :D

That means more people will buy it and will make Apple more money $$ :D

Digital Skunk
Jan 15, 2007, 09:16 PM
Just what the consumer needs.

Cheaper, and more functional versions of the iPhone.

I'm all for it. Competition is good.

YES :D

Competition is GREAT!!! :D

Especially when it comes to things like cell phones and service providers.

Abstract
Jan 15, 2007, 09:23 PM
"Redmond, start your copiers."


Oh wait, that was for something else. Now we're gonna have to tell that to Finland and Japan as well.

Stella
Jan 15, 2007, 09:26 PM
I'm sure your fingers will survive that brief moment :-D You can kiss them better when you get home!

What if you have gloves on and it is freezing outside? :confused:

I would hate to have to take my gloves off to answer my phone.. Or maybe I won't answer it.
:D

migue
Jan 15, 2007, 09:28 PM
is it just me, or the Onyx demonstration, while conceptually it could lead to touch interfaces like the iPhones, was a bit slow and sometimes unresponsive?

Synaptics got dumped by apple not so long ago (they made the clickwheels up to 4g and the mini, then apple developed them in house, which makes sense now....). And their technology as they say will only be available for production by OEMs by the end of the year. ClearPad seems quite different from the multitouch technology in the iPhone.

On the other hand, FingerWorks's approach was beautiful (a full 2-d array of copper antennas that measure the capacitance changes as one's hand, which is a grounded conductor, approaches each electrode). Normal touchscreen work by projection sensor arrangement, which explains the previous need for a bezel.
And yes, There are dozens of patents on it dating back to Wayne Westerman's PhD thesis at the University of Delaware.

Rocketman
Jan 15, 2007, 09:28 PM
What if you have gloves on and it is freezing outside? :confused:

I would hate to have to take my gloves off to answer my phone.. Or maybe I won't answer it.


I posted in another thread there needs to be a thimble of sorts to be able to operate the device with gloves or fat fingers.

I have heard nothing from Apple of course . . . .

This Macrumors summary is meaningful as always.

Rocketman

migue
Jan 15, 2007, 09:33 PM
What if you have gloves on and it is freezing outside? :confused:

I would hate to have to take my gloves off to answer my phone.. Or maybe I won't answer it.

On the touch tech stuff... hopefully this means that there will be a lot more imitation cell phones with touch tech like the iPhone. Competition breeds innovation. And Apple needs to start pushing this iPhone before it even comes out. Get off of Cingular and spread the phone around the other providers. :D

That means more people will buy it and will make Apple more money $$ :D

Some gloves cut off the tiny electric field needed to operate the screen.

Not that with gloves you find yourself better off typing a keyboard in a blizzard :D

I think this might spawn an iPhone gloves accessory market. Full gloves with one or two tips severed off. After the iPhone socks :cool: :eek: :o

wetrix
Jan 15, 2007, 09:36 PM
I seem to remember something saying there were sensitivity settings for the touch screen, which may, if set to maximum sensitivity, conduct through a glove. Apple seems to be saying that the iPhone can't do anything for now so that they don't let people down when it goes into production. I'm sure it will be a lot more functional than they let on. This is a better approach than saying it will work, and then not working.

Full gloves with one or two tips severed off. After the iPhone socks :cool: :eek: :o

Why not cut the tips off your fingers and stick them to the outside of your gloves?

Digitalclips
Jan 15, 2007, 09:38 PM
I'm sure your fingers will survive that brief moment :-D You can kiss them better when you get home!

There is an Eskimo version designed for the nose (two noses are required to 'pinch') ;)

ART5000
Jan 15, 2007, 09:43 PM
EIther apple is paying synaptics royalties OR SYNAPTIC has an big potential lawsuit (possible win)

the company that apple bought patented that technology in 2006

synaptics well, see below (they also used what jobs declares is his in a number of universities for years):eek:

Patent Number Title Issue date
4817034 Computerized handwriting duplication system Mar 28, 1989

5149919 Stylus sensing system Sep 22, 1992

5347295 Control of a computer through a position-sensed stylus Sep 13, 1994

5861583 Object position detector Jan 19, 1999

6133906 Display-integrated stylus detection system Oct 17, 2000

6236396 Method and apparatus for controlling a scheduler May 22, 2001

6424338 Speed zone touchpad Jul 23, 2002

6429846 Haptic feedback for touchpads and other touch controls Aug 6, 2002

6492979 Dual sensor touchscreen utilizing projective-capacitive and force touch sensors Dec 10, 2002

6563514 System and method for providing contextual and dynamic information retrieval May 13, 2003

6587587 System and methods for spacing, storing and recognizing electronic representations of handwriting, printing and drawings Jul 1, 2003
6614422 Method and apparatus for entering data using a virtual input device Sep 2, 2003

6674425 Integrated pointing and drawing graphics system for computers Jan 6, 2004

what is claimed under the patents

48. A method for controlling a display of data on a user interface presented on a display screen configured to report position information, said display screen adapted to communicate with an activating object disposed in at least one of a first proximate non-touching state and a second proximate non-touching state; defined by a first and second proximity relationship between said activating object and said display screen, respectively, the method comprising the steps of:

sensing a sensed relationship between said activating object and said display screen;
determining if said sensed relationship is said first proximity relationship;
displaying a first group of data on said display screen following a selected time period if said sensed relationship is said first proximity relationship;
determining if said sensed relationship is said second proximity relationship;
displaying a second group of data on said display screen if said sensed relationship is said second proximity relationship; and
controlling said display screen to hide at least a portion of said second group of data responsive to said activating object being disposed in said first proximity relationship.

rjwill246
Jan 15, 2007, 09:50 PM
Steve Jobs seemed pretty confident of Apple's patents on the multi-touch interface (Which he presumably wouldn't if Synaptics actually held the patents). I see a legal battle coming between Synaptics and Apple.

--or Apple needs to buy these guys. With their war-chest it should no be too hard.

jmsait19
Jan 15, 2007, 09:50 PM
On the other hand (pun intended), you can't stick your hands in your pocket while walking down the street. This might be an issue if you had your keys in your pocket, too (but no one would have their keys in their pocket with an iPhone). :eek:

i wouldn't even put the phone in my pocket... i put my iPod in my pocket and it got scuffed up during the first use....

rtdunham
Jan 15, 2007, 10:09 PM
Why not cut the tips off your fingers and stick them to the outside of your gloves?

thank you for that! :) :p :D :eek:

kresh
Jan 15, 2007, 10:24 PM
Has there been any word on using biometric security in conjunction with multi-touch?

It would be really cool that when you buy the iPhone it learns who you are through your fingerprints. There would have to be 2 modes, secure and unsecure. When the phone is in secure mode, only your fingers will operate the phone, address book, ect...



edit: Sorry, this was off topic, I didn't mean to try and hi-jack the thread.

ryanw
Jan 15, 2007, 10:58 PM
What if you have gloves on and it is freezing outside? :confused:

I would hate to have to take my gloves off to answer my phone.. Or maybe I won't answer it.

On the touch tech stuff... hopefully this means that there will be a lot more imitation cell phones with touch tech like the iPhone. Competition breeds innovation. And Apple needs to start pushing this iPhone before it even comes out. Get off of Cingular and spread the phone around the other providers. :D

That means more people will buy it and will make Apple more money $$ :D

I would have to agree. I think Apple is getting a little too zealous with their exclusivity and locking in of things. Sure, they have 65%+ market for iTunes. So if they're so confident with how great their products are, open up the "fair play" license so that others can put their songs on the iPod legally. Also they're too confident with the iPhone. They should sell unlocked versions to any network. Locking down to an exclusive provider is just going to open the doors for blackberry and others to sell cheap knockoffs. And people won't care if they get the cheap knockoff because it will be with the network of their choice.

ryanw
Jan 15, 2007, 11:09 PM
How about for women who have nails? Acrylic or otherwise... Did Apple make a sexist phone? Not saying, just saying... :rolleyes:

Are you a woman with nails? I doubt it, but I've seen a few women who have nails that use current technology cell phones. It's a riot. The buttons are too slippery to use their finger nails, so they end up having to hold the phones flat and use the flatter part of their fingers. So I would imagine a similar thing to occur, except easier than they use current phones because their nails tend to hit all kinds of things around them. Being that this screen will not respond to their nails hitting the screen, it could be a lot easier. Obviously, hopefully it doesn't end up scratching their screen. We'll see.

twoodcc
Jan 15, 2007, 11:36 PM
No matter who develops this technology, I love it. More please. :)

i agree, except we don't these companies fighting with each other though.....

MrCrowbar
Jan 15, 2007, 11:42 PM
I like the comments about iPhone-ready gloves. I like those 2 solutions:

- Gloves where you can flip open the finger tip on thumb and index finger. Imagine taking a regular glove, cut into the finger tip so it's still attached to the glove but can be easily flipped open. Make it so that it overlaps with the glove when closed and you have a cheap solution to the problem. snap your fingers, fingertips open.

- Gloves with conductive fingertips. I don't know what exactly the iPhone senses, but it seems to be similar to a touchpad. There must be some material that can conduct the required thing through the finger tip.

How about having the iPhone instantly heating up when you get a call? My Macbook does it when i open Photoshop. :-)

Chaszmyr
Jan 15, 2007, 11:51 PM
--or Apple needs to buy these guys. With their war-chest it should no be too hard.

It would have to be a pretty big lawsuit for Apple to want to buy them. The company isnt worth much after their stock bombed about a year ago, but still, Synaptics really doesn't have any technology that Apple doesn't.

puuukeey
Jan 16, 2007, 12:11 AM
lets see a monitor.(or table) cmon han

MattInOz
Jan 16, 2007, 01:07 AM
I like the comments about iPhone-ready gloves. I like those 2 solutions:

- Gloves where you can flip open the finger tip on thumb and index finger. Imagine taking a regular glove, cut into the finger tip so it's still attached to the glove but can be easily flipped open. Make it so that it overlaps with the glove when closed and you have a cheap solution to the problem. snap your fingers, fingertips open.

- Gloves with conductive fingertips. I don't know what exactly the iPhone senses, but it seems to be similar to a touchpad. There must be some material that can conduct the required thing through the finger tip.

How about having the iPhone instantly heating up when you get a call? My Macbook does it when i open Photoshop. :-)

You mean Gloves like these ones.
http://www.engadget.com/2006/01/04/tavo-gloves-for-the-ipod/

McCarron
Jan 16, 2007, 07:16 AM
Apple is also using technology developed in-part by this team of researchers at New York University led by Jeff Han.

http://cs.nyu.edu/~jhan/ftirtouch/index.html

It uses the same name, same of the same functionality and even has a note now about how they have some exciting announcements coming soon after the keynote.

But since most of their work appears to be with rear-projection screens I bet Apple had to go with Synaptics to develop a touch sensitive LCD. Either that or Apple has a mole sending Synaptics ideas.

The use of "Multi Touch" finger sensing technology though is probably very exclusive to Apple, if not patented by them. Very similar to the iPods circular touch wheel is.

IJ Reilly
Jan 16, 2007, 10:57 AM
Remember Uncle Steve's remarks at the keynote about Apple having patented the hell out of the iPhone's UI, and him saying "and we plan on defending it" (or words to that affect). This sounded distinctly like a shot over somebody's bow. Synaptics, perhaps?

RodThePlod
Jan 16, 2007, 11:26 AM
- Gloves where you can flip open the finger tip on thumb and index finger. Imagine taking a regular glove, cut into the finger tip so it's still attached to the glove but can be easily flipped open. Make it so that it overlaps with the glove when closed and you have a cheap solution to the problem. snap your fingers, fingertips open.

Dude!!! you need to patent that idea... And Quick!!!

Hahaha.. unless Apple have already beat you to it in one of the 200 multi-touch patents they've applied for :)

RodC

justflie
Jan 16, 2007, 01:25 PM
Remember Uncle Steve's remarks at the keynote about Apple having patented the hell out of the iPhone's UI, and him saying "and we plan on defending it" (or words to that affect). This sounded distinctly like a shot over somebody's bow. Synaptics, perhaps?

Good point, I hadn't thought of that. By the way, I watched a demo of Onyx. While the info on their website looks quite impressive, the actual demo of it was really not at all. Yeah, the touch screen works (kind of), but the UI not only looked like crap, but was cluttered and seemed difficult to navigate and def. not as intuitive as the iPhone. And I wonder how many times that word (intuitive) is used on this website. And no, I don't have a link for the onyx demo. I'm pretty sure it was from an RSS feed in Safari with the title of something to the effect of "move over iphone" or something like that.:rolleyes:

MrCrowbar
Jan 16, 2007, 03:20 PM
Dude!!! you need to patent that idea... And Quick!!!

Hahaha.. unless Apple have already beat you to it in one of the 200 multi-touch patents they've applied for :)

RodC

I really might cut the fingertips of some gloves open, take some picture of it and how you're supposed it, and apply for a patent called "hand warmer for use with touch-screen based devices" or something.
Trademarking "iFinger", "iFumble", "iDonTFreezeAnymore" right now :D
Hope Cisco won't sue me. :rolleyes:

Whistleway
Jan 16, 2007, 05:37 PM
Just what the consumer needs.

Cheaper, and more functional versions of the iPhone.

I'm all for it. Competition is good.

Yup. Give me one for $200. Imitation or not, it works for me :)

SiliconAddict
Jan 16, 2007, 11:40 PM
I actually consider this a con in that you need to take off your gloves to operate such devices. I was actually out filling up my car this evening 5* weather when I remembered that I needed to pick up milk. Well I called home to find out if there was anything else I needed. It would have sucked if I had to take my gloves off in such weather. Granted I could wait until I get in the car, but there have been plenty of other instances where I haven't had shelter as an option. *shrugs*

butaro
Jan 17, 2007, 01:28 AM
maybe there will be an option to answer call with the home button??? u guys are crazy lol

Chef Medeski
Jan 17, 2007, 08:30 AM
This post makes it seem like the screen only responding to fingers is a bad thing. I think for a phone, that's a great idea -- no way I'm going to dial anything in my pocket by bumping into a table
Yes... there is no such thing as a screen lock. Yet being able to use your phone with gloves, a stylus, a pen, fingertips. Not everyone at all time can use their fingers....

Chef Medeski
Jan 17, 2007, 08:39 AM
- Gloves where you can flip open the finger tip on thumb and index finger. Imagine taking a regular glove, cut into the finger tip so it's still attached to the glove but can be easily flipped open. Make it so that it overlaps with the glove when closed and you have a cheap solution to the problem. snap your fingers, fingertips open.


You dont live in Canada do you? Even in the South, where it gets to -40 C... or well F... at that temperature they dont even diffferentiate everyone knows its just ********* COLD. You dont want any cuts in your glove you might lose that finger. And just one layer of gloves.... yeah not happinen.