Synaptics Blog

Exploring The Latest in Human Interface Technologies

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Technology is moving at an unprecedented pace. To understand why we need to improve human interface, let’s review the market dynamics that are driving the changes in our world.
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There’s no question that fingerprint ID technology is proliferating quickly throughout the mobile sector. IHS research suggests that the number of fingerprint sensor-enabled devices will increase from 317 million units in 2014 to 1.4 billion by 2020, and we’ll only continue to see an explosion in the demand for current and future human interface technologies.
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Just when you thought we had already perfected touchscreen technology, a new dimension was added.
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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 Human Interface Revolution

The Human Interface RevolutionTechnology is moving at an unprecedented pace, especially the technology that allows people to interact with devices such as your smartphone.

To understand why we need to improve human interface, let’s review the market dynamics that are driving the changes in our world. Today, technology advances are not in steps, but in leaps.

Remember the time it took to get from the computer to laptop? And then from mobile phones, to smart phones? Today smartphones are an extension of us. It is a control console of applications through which we manage our world.

We do more and more with these devices; and the devices are getting more and more capable.

While the benefits of these smarter devices are undeniable to businesses as well as end users, they simply cannot be attained or realized without better usability – better interface – better Human Interface

In the old days, a phone was just a phone. You pushed buttons to dial a number and you made a call. Simple.

With the smartphones, you have to unlock your device with a password, navigate your device and find the phone app. It takes a lot more effort to make a simple call.

Better human interface can make these devices more intuitive, more “usable”. The interface should be easy-to-use, enriched, and provide a near effortless user experience. We are not there yet.  There is a gap, a gap between increased functionality and ease of use of the devices. I call it the usability gap.

This usability gap is where the opportunity lies for human interface industry. And the opportunity is huge. Human interface invention and revolution are necessary to seize this huge opportunity.

The human interface revolution is about perfecting the user experience and will encompass four phases. We call these phases Interaction, Personalization, Contextual Awareness, and Omnipresence.

Let’s talk about these four phases, starting with Interaction. In this first phase, the focus was and remains on the personal device itself. The evolution began eight years ago with the introduction of smartphones, where we moved from buttons to touchscreens. Synaptics was at the forefront of this transition, providing the technology that enabled the industry’s first touchscreen phone, the LG Prada. Touchscreens were later widely popularized by the Apple iPhone 1.

Today we continue to perfect the interaction phase with advancements such as usability while wearing a glove, working with moisture on the screen, and the ability to detect pressure.

The second phase of the human interface revolution is Personalization. This phase is happening now.

The personalization phase is a focus on the user, about knowing who the user is and using this information to provide a richer and more secure experience. Biometrics is a great example of personalization. Biometrics is the science of using something unique about you — to identify you. Biometric authentication will eliminate passwords — using your fingerprint, your iris, your voice and your face, or a combination of them is simple and foolproof — and Synaptics continues to innovate in this space.

Contextual Awareness is the third phase of this revolution. It is a focus on the environment, where devices are so intelligent they use clues about your environment, your state of being, and even your emotions to anticipate your needs and actions. We are already seeing early innovation in this phase. Imagine sensors proactively advising you to avoid traffic or high pollen counts, or sensors that know if you are in distress, then contacting emergency services and family on your behalf. This is very powerful.

The fourth phase is Omnipresence. It will be the ultimate phase in the human interface revolution, where the human interface transcends the personal device.

Personal devices will shrink so much that they become practically invisible. They won’t number in the billions, but in the trillions. They won’t be carried – they will be integrated into the infrastructure. They will be all around us, and they will recognize and react to your very presence. New inventions in human interface will be needed in order to engage and interact with these devices.

We don’t know all of the details yet, but that’s the spirit and challenge of innovation. Synaptics is a company focused solely on advancing and revolutionizing the human interface. We have proven success leading the market with innovative technology. Our user experience focused approach and strong R&D positions us well to lead the revolution. That’s why we’re the #1 human interface company.

Rick Bergman, CEO, Synaptics

Be sure to follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp and LinkedIn.

Rick Bergman on Force Touch Technology


ForcePad

A new dimension in touch!

With more than 2 billion smartphone owners worldwide, it’s safe to say that most are familiar with touchscreens. Touching to select, move, swipe, and scale have become expected results when interfacing with today’s smart devices. Today’s touchscreen technology is so intelligent that the user can perform touch while wearing a glove, when there is moisture on the screen, and even just hover over the screen without physically touching it. Just when you thought we had already perfected touchscreen technology, a new dimension was added.

In 2013, Synaptics pioneered this new dimension with our ForcePad™ technology. ForcePad detects the amount of pressure that the user’s finger(s) exert on the touch surface, delivers responsive feedback and added a new way of control and usability for users. By varying the amount of pressure applied, users can now control the speed of a gesture operation and continue the motion after the gesture stops. For example, when the user wants to scroll, they can initiate a scroll gesture and then the harder the user presses the faster they scroll, or if they use lighter pressure they can slowly but precisely review content. Pretty cool right?

The fact is that this technology is already starting to gain traction and buzz amongst key OEMs. Our ForcePad press technology has already been shipping with industry leading products, including HP’s flagship Elitebook Folio 1020, and our second generation ForcePad products are currently sampling.

We’ve also seen similar technology recently demonstrated in a major influencer’s new smartwatch and shipping on their latest laptop. There is no doubt in my mind that their adoption of force touch technology will accelerate its proliferation in more and more smart devices.

It really comes down to delivering more ease of use and an intuitive user experience. I’m proud that Synaptics brought to market another industry first with ForcePad technology. In keeping with our vision to lead the human interface revolution, we will continue to innovate and bring new solutions to our customers.

Rick Bergman, CEO, Synaptics

Be sure to follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp and LinkedIn.

Rick Bergman Shares Perspective on the Biometrics Ecosystem

Biometrics Ecosystem
There’s no question that fingerprint ID technology is proliferating quickly throughout the mobile sector. IHS research suggests that the number of fingerprint sensor-enabled devices will increase from 317 million units in 2014 to 1.4 billion by 2020, and we’ll only continue to see an explosion in the demand for current and future human interface technologies.

With the help of major OEMs such as Apple, Samsung and HTC, today’s consumers are increasingly amenable to using biometrics on their mobile devices to secure data and authorize payments. End users are moving away from passwords to a more secure and human experience – fingerprint identification.

Rapid adoption of biometric authentication relies on more than just proliferation of fingerprint sensors in devices. It relies on an entire ecosystem coming together to provide a complete solution. Thought leaders in silicon development, banking and payment, operating systems, and industry standards compliance, must work together to build reliable security utilities across multiple platforms.

As fingerprint ID continues to dominate flagship mobile devices, adoption of secure online payment authentication applications such as Google Wallet and Apple Pay is also creating demand in new markets. To capitalize on this market opportunity, low- to mid-tier smartphone manufacturers are now looking into implementing the same type of fingerprint ID solutions typically found in tier-one devices, and will likely drive the adoption rate to new heights. Other growth areas for secure online payments are emerging in traditional peripherals such as keyboards and mice.

As a founding member of the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance, Synaptics recognized the need for collaboration from the beginning, but it’s the effort across partners such as PayPal, Nok Nok Labs, Microsoft, Visa and Google, that is driving simpler, stronger authentication and creating the end-to-end biometric solutions our end-users demand. While we continue to build on these partnerships, a flourishing ecosystem requires growth through a standardized alliance.

Enabling fully customizable solutions through open, scalable and interoperable mechanisms is an important first step in building the ecosystem. Yet, continued support from our partners and growth in the ecosystem needs to span component manufacturers, OEMs, software providers, service providers and end-user confidence. Ultimately this will help boost demand in new market segments and drive the future of biometric technology.

It’s exciting to think about all the different use cases for biometrics, and we envision a future where passwords are obsolete.

Rick Bergman, CEO, Synaptics

Be sure to follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp.

Synaptics to Introduce New Technology at GDC, Aims to Impact the Future of Gaming

gaming 3Here at Synaptics, we’ve established ourselves as a visionary authority leading the human interface revolution. We have established market leadership for touch and biometrics ID in smartphones, tablets and notebook markets. We are now making an entrance into the gaming and automotive spaces.

Next week, the gaming industry will be on the forefront of Synaptics’ mind, as one of the biggest video game industry events, the Game Developers Conference (GDC), takes over San Francisco. In fact, our vice president of product marketing, Godfrey Cheng, will be in attendance to discuss how Synaptics is making its way into the gaming industry and how the various technologies we have to offer can enhance the gaming experience.

On the surface, finding value in biometrics for gaming may be difficult. But there is tremendous potential and importance to gamers when discussing fingerprint-sensing and eye-scanning technology and how it can help enhance the gaming experience.

Fingerprint ID technology can provide an easy one-touch or one-scan solution to authentication enabling gamers to quickly and seamlessly begin playing their favorite MMO or RPG games. As digital games rise in popularity, gamers expect instant and convenient transaction methods; however, security is of utmost importance and having stored credit card information can be worrisome, especially for those who have children that play games on the same account and who may not hesitate to make purchases. With one swift touch of the mouse gamers will no longer have to worry about potential mysterious purchases on their account or levels being completed without their knowledge.

Further, there’s the efficiency factor: The gamer mentality begs for the easiest way to do things. Smart mice and space bars with fingerprint solutions can reduce click and tap time, improving the speed at which a gamer can operate and giving them the edge every gamer craves.

For many, gaming is a competitive sport for which reliable identification methods are a necessity. Keeping the proper accounts activated and gaining a competitive edge are of utmost importance.

The keyboard, mouse, controller and headset are the tools of today’s gamers. Advancements in their core functionality, look and feel have been plentiful over the years, but what about new functionality? The next five years will see a wave of new functionality and new tools flooding the gaming marketplace.

With Synaptics touch-sensitive interface implementations such as ForcePad™, Natural ID™, and gaze tracking, we’re prepared to push ahead with a product portfolio promoting a secure gaming experience, efficiency, and competition among hardcore gamers.

To learn more about Synaptics’ entrance into gaming, as well as a perspective on the future of security technology in the industry, stop by to see Godfrey speak at GDC. He will be speaking in Room 2024 in the West Hall of the Moscone Center, next Thursday, March 5th from 2-2:30 pm PST. We hope to see you there!

For regular Synaptics updates and more from GDC, follow us on Twitter @Synaptics!

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:

Biometrics 1

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.