Synaptics ClearPad Technology, Fingerworks, iPhone?

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    MacRumors reported on the Synaptics ClearPad technology in August when Synaptics announced a concept phone (Onyx) based on their new "ClearPad" technology. The ClearPad is a capacitive touch screen (much like laptop trackpads) that offers these advantages:

    Readers will note that many of these features are identical to Apple's iPhone screen technology. Synaptics recently demoed the Onyx phone demo (video) 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 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 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 on Apple's touch-screen research as well as Apple's acquisition of a company known as FingerWorks who had done significant development in multitouch input devices (iGesture Pad). 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 a number of patent applications in July of 2006 describing multi-touch input methods:

    Regardless of whether or not Synaptics is the supplier for the iPhone itself, analysts see high demand for Synaptics from industry competitors who will try to mimic the iPhone interface. According to MobilityToday, Synaptics' ClearPad technology will become available to OEMs "by the end of the year."
  2. quigleybc macrumors 68030


    Jun 17, 2005
    Beautiful Vancouver British Columbia, Canada
    No matter who develops this technology, I love it. More please. :)
  3. whw5 macrumors regular

    Feb 27, 2004
    ahh well, wont be long before a flood of cheap imitations of the iphone.
  4. Chaszmyr macrumors 601


    Aug 9, 2002
    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.
  5. azraq27 macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2006
    Fingers only?

    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
  6. arn macrumors god


    Staff Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    quite true. I changed the article.

  7. SeaFox macrumors 68020


    Jul 22, 2003
    Somewhere Else
    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:
  8. Agamemnon macrumors newbie

    Jan 4, 2007
    How about for women who have nails? Acrylic or otherwise... Did Apple make a sexist phone? Not saying, just saying... :rolleyes:
  9. Stella macrumors 604


    Apr 21, 2003
    Just what the consumer needs.

    Cheaper, and more functional versions of the iPhone.

    I'm all for it. Competition is good.
  10. BillyShears macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2003
    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
  11. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Only Fingers May Be Okay!?

    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
  12. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    YES :D

    Competition is GREAT!!! :D

    Especially when it comes to things like cell phones and service providers.
  13. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    "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.
  14. Stella macrumors 604


    Apr 21, 2003
    I'm sure your fingers will survive that brief moment :-D You can kiss them better when you get home!

  15. migue macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2004
    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.
  16. Rocketman macrumors 603


    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.

  17. migue macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2004
    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: :eek:
  18. wetrix macrumors 6502


    Dec 1, 2006
    Auckland, New Zealand
    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.

    Why not cut the tips off your fingers and stick them to the outside of your gloves?
  19. Digitalclips macrumors 65816

    Mar 16, 2006
    Sarasota, Florida
    There is an Eskimo version designed for the nose (two noses are required to 'pinch') ;)
  20. ART5000 macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2004
    ou o

    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.
  21. rjwill246 macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2003
    USA (often) and Adelaide, OZ

    --or Apple needs to buy these guys. With their war-chest it should no be too hard.
  22. jmsait19 macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2004
    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....
  23. rtdunham macrumors 6502a


    Jun 21, 2003
    St. Petersburg, FL, Northern KY
    thank you for that! :) :p :D :eek:
  24. kresh macrumors 6502a


    What about biometric security

    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.
  25. ryanw macrumors 6502

    Oct 21, 2003
    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.

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