Synaptics Blog

Exploring The Latest in Human Interface Technologies

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Everybody loves winning something – be it first place in the science fair or Best Picture at the Oscars. Awards give us a sense of validation for the hours upon hours of hard work that goes into creating something special, which is why we at Synaptics are pleased to even be considered for a handful of awards in 2014-15.
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Synaptics is showing off its newest solutions at CES 2015 in Las Vegas. Check out some pictures of the booth and a video demo of Synaptics' Torchio automotive touch technology here!
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At CES 2015, you may have noticed the show floor changing gears, representing a massive shift in automotive technology. It's no coincidence that some of the most popular demos at our booth this year followed that trend.
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The password authentication model has always had its failings, and is especially relevant in today's world, where the need for security is stronger than ever. Enter Synaptics SecurePad™: Easy-to-use, FIDO-ready fingerprint scanning intelligently designed into the corner of a laptop’s TouchPad. Best of all? No password needed.
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And the Winner is…

Everybody loves winning something – be it first place in the science fair or Best Picture at the Oscars. Awards give us a sense of validation for the hours upon hours of hard work that goes into creating something special, which is why we at Synaptics are pleased to even be considered for a handful of awards in 2014-15.

Starting off on a high note, Synaptics received GOLD in the 2014 Best in Biz awards for Company of the Year (Large, 1,000+ employees), and our CEO Rick Bergman received the Bronze medal for Executive of the Year (Large). For the 2014 Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) Awards, Synaptics was given the award for Favorite Analyst Semiconductor Company. We competed against a lot of outstanding companies for these awards, so we don’t take these honors lightly.

GSMAawards

Moving on to 2015, Synaptics has been shortlisted for two awards that will be announced in the coming months. First, the Global Mobile Awards, where we are a finalist for the Mobile Connect Award for Best Authentication & Identity Solution. This is a big deal; not just for Synaptics, but for biometrics as a whole as we consider it to be the future of authentication-based security. The Global Mobile Awards are the cream of the crop for mobile awards, and we’ll find out if we take home the top prize in March at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Also in March, we’ll find out if Synaptics will take home the PaymentEye FinTech Innovation Award in the Best Mobile Wallet category. You can actually help us out with this one by voting for Synaptics here.

There’s a lot to be excited about here from the past, present, and future, but we want to take this moment to recognize all of the hard work from everyone at Synaptics that allows us to even be considered for all of these awards.

Now let’s achieve even more in 2015.

Be sure to follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp.

Is This CES or the Detroit Auto Show?

Torchio demo at CES.

Torchio demo at CES.

For any seasoned CES veteran at the show this year, one thing you probably noticed was the immense presence of automakers. Even walking into the main hall, banners from the likes of Audi and Mercedes hung in place where you might have seen Qualcomm and Intel’s flags fly in the past.

Of all of the things these automakers unveiled at CES, one thing in particular caught our eye: touch and gesture input controls for center consoles.

With that in mind, it came as no surprise that the most popular demo at the Synaptics booth was our automotive product, code-named “Torchio,” which showcased the possibility of gestural-based interaction in an automotive environment.

Torchio leverages our ForcePad™ technology to provide a fluid input method. Thanks to ForcePad’s haptic feedback, drivers have the ability to control the center console with the touch of a hand while their eyes never leave the road. It’s simple stuff, really, because the last thing drivers need on the road is a complex method of changing the AC or radio.

You can – and should – watch a demo of Torchio in action here to see how easy it is.

Tobii

Tobii demo at CES.

Another hit at the Synaptics booth was an eye-tracking automotive heads-up display (HUD) prototype we’ve been working on with Tobii.

Imagine having your windshield display pertinent information wherever you look, combined with a proximity-sensing TouchPad to keep your eyes on the road. The possibilities are endless with this type of technology, and there will be much more to hear about this soon enough.

At Synaptics, we are excited to see auto OEMs integrating with the tech world. It’s also validating to see Audi and BMW, among others, display their own technologies similar to Torchio. This is the start of something big in the automotive industry.

2015 should be a wild ride.

Be sure to follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp.

Synaptics Showing Off Innovative Solutions at CES

While many opt to ring in the first week of 2015 with clubs, casinos and performances in Las Vegas, Synaptics is in town for the most exciting show of them all.

This week marks the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where all the major players in the technology industry gather every January to showcase the latest and greatest innovations. Synaptics joined the party on Sunday at CES Unveiled and has been featuring smart display, automotive, and wearable tech solutions (to name a few!) on the show floor.

Here is a look at a few cool things we’ve been demonstrating all week:

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The biometrics wall in the Synaptics CES booth, displaying the fingeprint-swiping Natural ID tech, among other solutions.

Torchio

The Torchio automotive touch display at the Synaptics CES booth – see a video demo below.

Large Display

The “large display” technology wall, displaying new versions of Synaptics classics like SecurePad and ForcePad.

For all the most up-to-date CES and Synaptics news, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @SynaCorp

SecurePad: Coming to a Notebook Near You

SecurePad_ImageThe term “paradigm shift” has become a cliché as of late – but if we look carefully, we can still identify the occasional real one. In the world of security, one is taking place right in front of us. Since the ancient times of Greece, a password – that is a “shared secret” – has been used to confirm access rights. That model carried thousands of years forward into the computer age such that every electronic system today uses the same model with a slight twist: instead of comparing the password with another human, we are comparing it with a computer.

This model has always had its failings, and today with the need for secure authentication stronger than ever, a new solution is emerging. Enter stage right: Synaptics SecurePad™. Stepping up to complement its brethren in the mobile space such as that found on the Samsung Galaxy S5 – Synaptics SecurePad brings easy-to-use fingerprint scanning intelligently designed into the corner of a laptop’s TouchPad. Being a FIDO-ready device, SecurePad supports “password-less” authentication by enabling secure local authentication in a public key cryptography-based authentication architecture. In short – no passwords. No passwords to remember, to mistype, to change, to recover, to be overheard, to re-use, to be thought up, to be written down…no more passwords to be stolen, shoulder surfed, hacked, guessed or shared. This is the paradigm shift. In the new world, we place our finger and lift and we are done.

What does this mean for the consumer? It means a quick finger authentication to log into your PC, to secure or reveal sensitive files or gain Administrator access. To log into your websites you merely drop your finger on the fingerprint sensor – as easy as pushing a button. Want to buy something online? Touch your fingerprint sensor. Secure chat? Touch. Sign an electronic document? Touch.

SecurePad does not stop at bringing unprecedented user value. It enables broad adoption in the PC space by making manufacturing more cost-effective. A single chassis design is now possible, saving OEMs time and money – no longer will an OEM have to stock a separate palm rest design incorporating a fingerprint sensor cutout. SecurePad eliminates the need for duplicate hardware components such as connectors, cables and resistors used for separate modules, as well as excessive inventory requirements and multiple device driver efforts – ultimately lowering the total cost of ownership.

The new world has come, brought to you by Synaptics. Expect to hear much more about SecurePad in the weeks to come.

Be sure to follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp.

Introducing Smart Displays Powered by Synaptics

We’ve talked several times on this blog about how the touchscreen plays such an influential role in the user experience and how the choice of its design can be a determining factor in a product’s ultimate success. Now the time has finally come to introduce an innovative architecture where, for the first time, both the touch controller and display driver are combined and optimized in a system level solution to power what we’re calling the smart display. Imagine a display with not only the added intelligence of a microprocessor, but also better performance and a thinner design.

Creating a touchscreen has historically been accomplished by layering two distinct functions – touch and display – each controlled separately and autonomously. Synaptics touch and display driver integration (TDDI) inaugurates a new approach by combining the touch controller and display driver into a single-chip solution.

With TDDI, it’s possible to synchronize touch sensing so that it occurs when the display driver is inactive, virtually eliminating display noise and improving capacitive sensing performance. Synaptics TDsync™ technology takes it a step further by avoiding other sources of noise too.

With display integration, OEMs source touch and display as a single component from a single vendor, simplifying their supply chain and speeding problem resolution. And with fewer components to integrate, products can be assembled faster, with greater yield and lower cost.

The Synaptics ClearPad® Series 4 family is the first of many offerings from Synaptics that will power smart displays of the future. There’s plenty more to come, but we couldn’t wait to get the word out right away.

Be sure to follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp.

Synaptics Completes the Acquisition of Renesas SP Drivers

RSP logoCapacitive touchscreen technology has come a long way since it revolutionized smartphones and tablets. Because the market for these devices is fiercely competitive, OEMs are constantly challenged to design products with increasingly intelligent displays.

Back in June we announced our intent to acquire Renesas SP Drivers, Inc. (RSP), a premier supplier of small- and medium-sized Display Driver ICs (DDICs) for smartphones and tablets to help meet this challenge. We can now happily say that the acquisition has been completed.

The addition of RSP broadens our portfolio of products for the touchscreen market, increasing our addressable market by 1.5 times. It also accelerates our product roadmap for touch and display driver integration (TDDI), a game-changing integration solution.

Integrating touch control into the display driver adds processing capability, creating an intelligent system level solution. And TDDI is just the first of many smart display offerings that will allow us to improve the way users interact with their devices.

We continue to evolve as a company, and this acquisition marks the start of a new era – one in which smart displays change the way we shop, make payments and communicate with the world. We can’t wait to show you what we have in store, so stay tuned because there’s more to come here soon.

For more information, visit the press release here.

Be sure to follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp.

Alibaba Group and Alipay Help Put FIDO on Fast Track to Adoption

We’ve discussed our membership in the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance before. Don’t remember? Here’s a refresher: The FIDO Alliance aims to revolutionize online authentication by developing standards-based specifications for simpler, stronger authentication that define an open, scalable, interoperable set of mechanisms that reduce reliance on passwords.

Or, in layman’s terms, FIDO members share technology and collaborate to deliver a universal authentication standard that will improve security and ease of use for consumers.

As the world continues to move away from easily hackable, hard-to-remember passwords and towards biometric solutions like fingerprint scanning and facial recognition, it needs a strong set of standards to guide the tech industry and ensure the most secure solutions possible.

So, as a proud member of the FIDO Alliance, Synaptics hopes to use Natural ID™ fingerprint authentication (most commonly known for its Samsung Galaxy S5 implementation) solutions to help make an impact in the war against passwords.

With the addition of China-based Alibaba Group to the FIDO Alliance this week, our goal of escalating the global adoption of fingerprint authentication becomes more and more attainable. The online and mobile commerce company has hundreds of millions of users who need a secure, private FIDO authentication model to protect their personal information.

Alibaba Group will become one of the first to deploy FIDO technology for secure payments and authentication with FIDO Alliance founding member Nok Nok Labs, specifically for its payments system, Alipay.

The diligent time and effort Alibaba has put into the development of this online authentication ecosystem to support Alipay is a significant validation point for the FIDO Alliance’s mission, and for the biometrics industry as a whole.

An addition like this to the FIDO family will prove essential, as Alibaba can really accelerate the adoption of FIDO authentication standards with its massive user base. In a world where personal privacy is breached online every single day, validating what we’re trying to do is a welcome push towards the ultimate destination.

Join us in welcoming Alibaba Group and its Alipay solution to the front lines of the battle to eliminate unsafe passwords!

You can follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp.

Sensors in Sports: How Technology Will Revolutionize the Games We Love

SXSW logoWe all know how the NFL’s Super Bowl — America’s most-watched sporting event — goes: One team kicks off, and the ball tumbles into the returner’s hands. From the opening whistle, there are massive, rigid bodies plated in plastic pads and metal helmets smashing into one another at top speed, with the expressed intent of moving its target to the ground.

This makes for an entertaining spectacle, but one or more players will inevitably suffer an injury during the course of a given football game. This could be something as harmless as a cut or bruise, or something as life-threatening as a spinal injury or severe concussion, which has become the top health concern in American sports.
Now, imagine the action of the Super Bowl, and look a decade into the future:

One team kicks off, and the WiFi-enabled ball tumbles into the returner’s hands. From the opening whistle, there are massive, rigid bodies plated in plastic pads embedded with a heart monitor and metal helmets wired with pressure-sensitive sensors, smashing into one another at top speed (MPH of course measured by an accelerometer on each player’s wrist) with the expressed intent of moving its target to the ground, where a set of precise cameras will measure the exact location of the ball for placement on the next play.

Those injuries will still occur. But with hundreds of sensors on the people, field and machines involved, the harshness of injuries will be measured and relayed to team physicians in an instant, better equipping the NFL to make quick, smart decisions about treatment and to help collect information for prevention of future incidents.

If the risk of concussion is present, the player might wear an octopus-like “helmet” wrapped around his head. This device, complete with 256 perfectly-placed electrolyte-soaked sensors, will run comprehensive, accurate tests on the player’s brain to determine the best course of action. Sensor-infused technological advances like this may change the way sports are played and officiated forever; in some ways, they already are:

FIFA used cameras to help determine whether a ball was officially in the goal or not during this year’s World Cup.

• At the NFL Draft Combine, several athletes display Under Armour’s shirts with built-in breathing monitors and accelerometers – this technology is tweaked and improved for every new combine.

• Major League Baseball is looking at sleeve technology that will measure a pitcher’s health in real-time and potentially cut down on the torn UCL epidemic.

• In professional tennis, Ralph Lauren just introduced high-performance shirts at the U.S. Open, which contain sensors knitted into the core of the product to read biological and physiological information; a major breakthrough in the Quantified Self movement.

• Professional cycling already features on-bike point-of-view camera shots and collects massive amounts of data to measure riders’ physiological signs. That data is published and broadcast to the public, heightening the incredible demands the sport places on these athletes.

Yours truly is up for an SXSWi 2015 session on sensors in sports and the science behind them. I’ll discuss the benefits of allowing technology to infiltrate the sports world, including my own predictions on which applications may be on the horizon. If you want to know everything about the Trillion Sensor Movement and its relation to your favorite sport, please visit the SXSW panel picker and give Synaptics a big thumbs-up! Voting ends this Friday, September 5th!

 

Want more Synaptics news? Follow @SynaCorp on Twitter!

On the Up and Up: We’ve Shipped Two BILLION Units

There’s an old adage somewhere that says the first million is the hardest to make, but that applies to the first billion too. It took us 17 years to ship our first billion units, a milestone we reached back in 2011. Driven by the industry’s broadest human interface solutions portfolio, it only took us just three more years to cross the threshold of two billion shipped units. As we continue to up the game and do what we do best – lead the industry with our touch and fingerprint authentication solutions – our next billion is just around the corner.

The mobile market has been incredibly dynamic for years now and that activity doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Our high-performance touch solutions have helped to enhance the mobile experience, and are making their way into the hands of more consumers across the globe faster than ever before. Additionally, our recent acquisition of Validity has left us in a very favorable position to take advantage of exciting opportunities in the burgeoning biometrics market – an area that will help make interacting with your phone effortless.

All of this comes on the heels of significant company milestones which have accelerated our explosive momentum over the past year. The latest Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone includes our Natural ID™ fingerprint solution along with our industry-leading ClearPad® technology for the second consecutive iteration of the flagship device. In the PC industry, the latest HP EliteBook line incorporates ForcePad®, making it the first TouchPad to include pressure recognition, while ClickPad™ 2.0 won a CES Innovation Award for being the most advanced capacitive-sensing notebook touchpad technology available.

These game changing technologies have translated to notable customers wins from the biggest global OEMs including Acer, Amazon, Dell, HTC and others – all of which will help to drive our business to new heights.

Now that we’re done patting ourselves on the back, it’s time to get back to work and set our sights on shipping the next billion units!

Want more Synaptics news? Follow @SynaCorp on Twitter!

Samsung Galaxy S5: Busting the Biometric Myths

Biometrics MythThe future of technology rests in your hands. And your eyes. And your ears and your heart and your hair and your toes and every inch of human body in between.

Of course, I’m talking about biometrics, which is already gaining mass adoption in the newest mobile devices as a means to authenticate one’s ability to communicate, shop and browse on a smartphone.

Most recently, Synaptics’ Natural ID solutions were implemented in the Samsung Galaxy S5 and allow users access to their phones with a fingerprint swipe rather than fumbling with a hard-to-remember, broken passcode system.

The biometric method is superior for many reasons, with convenience and improved security functions chief among them. But many users are questioning the technology and its hackability, and whether it could lead to more important data being stolen.

That’s what I’m here for. To bust those myths that swirl around biometrics. Here are five of the most common fables, debunked:

1. Can my severed finger unlock my phone?

Ouch. Not only is this completely unlikely, but it’s entirely gruesome. Luckily, the technology behind these sensors requires that it be accessed with a live finger. There is no way for the reader to pick up the correct image on a dead pulse, though a fingerprint won’t be completely unrecognizable until a few bloody minutes have passed. Unless you have zombie limbs. And in that case, you have bigger problems. Personally, I’d be more than happy to unlock the device if threatened, than lose a finger over my Facebook posts.

2. What about an exact replica of my fingerprint?

If you have the specialized, expensive equipment to pull a fingerprint replica, then this plan just might work. However, all the components in the Galaxy S5 allow for the process to be canceled and renewed in those situations, and you have the option of applying your finger at a certain angle and pressure to make it even harder to hack. Even if someone goes to all that trouble just to steal access to your phone, it would be a lot harder to get into than hacking a four-digit passcode.

3. Are you going to save my fingerprint data in the cloud?

Not to worry. We only save a local copy (the template) of your print on the device, so there is no massive, hackable cloud hovering in the interwebs somewhere. If your fingerprint is stolen or your device is hacked, your identity is still safe. Thieves will not be able to reconstruct a clean image of your fingerprint from the digital template in the device. The template is the element that can be replaced.

4. Will a stolen phone put my data at risk?

Again, unless the thief has the wherewithal and technology to replicate your fingerprint, this won’t pose any problems beyond ruining your day. The local copy of your data won’t be accessible without your print, and you can turn it off remotely if necessary. And it remains much better protected than phones belonging to the 50 percent of users today who don’t even bother to use their PIN.

5. What if I break my phone and can’t use the scanner?

The touch driver was designed to read the print through cracks and dents for those users possessing above-average clumsiness. It won’t be as pleasant to swipe across, but the reading itself shouldn’t be affected. If absolutely necessary, you can initiate a recovery mechanism in this instance. Just try to drop it on couch cushions instead of concrete from now on.

More questions for us? Follow @SynaCorp on Twitter!