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Synaptics ClearPad Technology, Fingerworks, iPhone?

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Apr 12, 2001
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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:

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) 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:

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 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."
 

Chaszmyr

macrumors 601
Aug 9, 2002
4,267
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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.
 
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azraq27

macrumors newbie
Nov 21, 2006
3
0
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
 
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arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
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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
 
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SeaFox

macrumors 68030
Jul 22, 2003
2,560
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Somewhere Else
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:
 
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Agamemnon

macrumors newbie
Jan 4, 2007
5
0
How about for women who have nails? Acrylic or otherwise... Did Apple make a sexist phone? Not saying, just saying... :rolleyes:
 
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Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,499
5,366
Canada
Just what the consumer needs.

Cheaper, and more functional versions of the iPhone.

I'm all for it. Competition is good.
 
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BillyShears

macrumors 6502
Jan 30, 2003
312
0
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
 
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Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
7,972
622
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
 
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Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,499
5,366
Canada
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
 
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migue

macrumors newbie
Jun 9, 2004
22
0
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.
 
Comment

Rocketman

macrumors 603
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
 
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migue

macrumors newbie
Jun 9, 2004
22
0
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: :eek:
 
Comment

wetrix

macrumors 6502
Dec 1, 2006
422
0
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.

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

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

ART5000

macrumors member
Jul 27, 2004
45
10
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.
 
Comment

jmsait19

macrumors 6502
Jan 26, 2004
378
0
MO
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....
 
Comment
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.
 
Comment

ryanw

macrumors 6502
Oct 21, 2003
307
0
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.
 
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