Synaptics has announced a new generation of touch-based hardware components, including a pressure sensitive capacitive touchpad and an ultra-thin keyboard with improved backlighting. The new components are designed for use with Intel Ultrabooks running Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system.
The company’s new touchpad, know as the ForcePad, is the product that has seen the most development. The clickable lower section on the company's current ClickPad has been replaced by a complex pressure sensor providing multi-finger, variable force detection technology. The new button-less form factor aims to maximize the area reserved for gestures, making it a more natural fit with the touch-first mentality of Windows 8. The hardware can detect up to five points of variable pressure at up to 1000 grams (2.2 lb), and features Gesture Continuation support allowing for touch-based actions such as flick-scrolling.
The second addition to the company’s hardware line-up is the ThinTouch keyboard. The new component offers better backlighting and features force sensing technology, which allows for touch-screen-like features such as holding down a letter key for a capital letter (shown in video below). Both the ForcePad and the new ThinTouch keyboard are 40 percent thinner than their conventional alternatives. It’s unclear how this will affect the ThinTouch hardware, as there is significantly less travel on the keys in the new design. However, Synaptics claims that the hardware is the “world’s thinnest touch type-able keyboard.”
The impetus placed upon the compact nature of the ForcePad and ThinTouch components is designed to create more space for battery and cooling components, as well as reducing the overall thickness of the notebook PC itself.
There’s no word yet on the availability of the ThinTouch keyboard, but systems featuring the ForcePad are expected to begin shipping in mid-2013.