Last month, Synaptics held its second annual Hackathon at company headquarters in San Jose and remotely in other regional offices. For those who don’t already know, a Hackathon is a day-long contest in which contestants can work alone or on teams to make whatever tech projects they’ve dreamt about become reality.
Participants present their concepts and short demos to a panel of judges for prizes and recognition. Not only is it a great time for our engineers, but also a way to foster camaraderie and give people an opportunity to collaborate with co-workers they normally wouldn’t work with.
Each region had its own judging panel that awarded local prizes, which totaled $4,500 in cash along with a trophy and medals to each regional winner.
In San Jose, the Hackathon saw 36 participants on 14 teams, including two visitors from the Rochester office. Worldwide, 88 people on 28 different teams took part. Those participants explored and utilized many Synaptics technologies and products, including 3D-touch hover technology (aka AirView), ClearPad capacitive touchscreens and pressure-sensitive ForcePad to generate their ideas and demos. Biometrics and eye-tracking implementations also made an appearance at this year’s Hackathon.
Of particular interest in San Jose were prize-winning projects: One, which won the San Jose region’s grand prize, utilized global hover gestures for innovative setting control. Another boasted a custom-made algorithm that allowed a phone user multiple stylus control.
Overall, it was a great event that built on the success of last year. If you’ve ever participated in a Hackathon, we’d love to hear some of your ideas for what we can do next time.
Synaptics has been experiencing a lot of growth over the years and with that has come more people, more desks and A LOT more equipment. While we loved our old facilities, it simply came time to move on to bigger and better things. So, like a teenager going through a growth spurt, we decided it was time to settle into something that will last a while. Only a few miles away from our old offices in Santa Clara, our new facilities in San Jose will be able to accommodate our rapid expansion, while also reducing our overall environmental footprint.
In addition to a more comfortable work environment, we wanted to make sure our news facilities were environmentally friendly as well, which is why we partnered with Environmental Building Strategies (EBS) to identify sustainable building opportunities and perform LEED certification services. EBS was brought in early during the project’s design phase in order to maximize sustainable opportunities and minimize cost from the start including a comprehensive energy model to map out the building’s projected energy usage based on proposed building renovations and technology upgrades. Additionally, EBS worked closely with our management and design team to identify new sustainable building practices including product design, packaging and corporate recycling programs that we could immediately implement.
Some additional sustainable building achievements include:
Significant increases in building windows and skylights to improve natural lighting
Reuse of existing energy and building materials to reduce construction waste
Installation of showers, bike storage facilities and electrical vehicle charging stations to encourage alternative transportation options
Recycled water irrigation to reduce landscaping water usage
The new headquarters also comes equipped with a state-of-the-art exercise facility, full-fledged cafeteria and executive catering crew to round out the creature comforts of the workspace. By pursuing sustainable building practices, we affirm our commitment to reducing the impact on natural resources and improving the health of our employees within our new headquarters.
We’re extremely excited about our new headquarters, and glad to call San Jose our new home. We’d also like to extend a very heart-felt thank you to the San Jose Building and Planning Department for their help in making this project a reality.
If you’re curious how it all looks, take a peek at some photos from this past Friday’s official ribbon cutting ceremony below.
Earlier this week, Synaptics participated in the Have A Ball Foundation charity golf tournament. Hosted at the Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville, California, the event is easily one of Synpatics’ favorite charities to sponsor, not only because it’s a great time with fantastic people but because of the amazing organizations in which proceeds are given.
Founded in 2005 by two-time cancer survivor, Bob Hammer, the foundation benefits roughly 15 different cancer organizations yearly, has created scholarships for oncology nursing students, sends children with cancer to Camp Okizu and much more. Touted as “one of the largest, non-celebrity, privately-held golf tournaments in the nation,” the foundation has raised over $1 million since inception.
We want to help the foundation as much as possible, so we’re spreading the word and hope you can join us for the second installation of the twice-yearly tournament on September 16th. Don’t get this confused for any old golf outing; the event is jam packed with great food and drinks, live music, on-course contests, giveaways, raffles and cool demos like the San Jose Earthquakes new stadium experience.
If you’re interested in learning more about the organization, signing up for the upcoming tournament or want to donate to the Have a Ball Foundation, feel free to check out their website: http://haveaballgolf.com/.
Microsoft just launched the updated Windows 8.1 operating system, formerly known as Project Blue, and Synaptics has continued to work very closely with the company to more tightly integrate touch and gesture support into the overall design and functionality of the operating system. This technical collaboration between the two companies will ensure a more consistent and reliable touch experience across the range of devices that will be built for the system. By creating a proficient specification standard for Microsoft’s precision touchpad technology, an inferior touch experience is eliminated from reaching consumer devices.
In addition to reliable touch functionality on all Windows 8.1 devices, touchscreen and touchpad gestures are more tightly integrated, resulting in a consistent experience regardless of how you interact with the device. Windows 8.1 is the most advanced touch-based operating system to date and the tight collaboration between Synaptics and Microsoft ensures the most reliable experience possible.
The scope of what is considered “human interface technology” has grown dramatically in the past few years and here at Synaptics, we’re constantly trying to push the envelope in innovation that you, the consumer, will see on your next smartphone, tablet or PC.
One of the trends that’s caught our eye recently(pun intended) is gaze-detection or eye-tracking; the ability for your device to recognize where you’re looking and in-turn report an accurate action such as selecting, closing or zooming in on an object. The concept has been around for some time but no one has incorporated these tools into a device that marries the functionality with an enhanced touch solution – which is exactly why Synaptics decided to team up with Tobii to develop a prototype unit doing just that.
By incorporating these technologies into one sharp looking prototype, we can now test and showcase some of the possibilities of marrying the two input methods. With the pressure-sensitive functionality of our top-of-the-line Synaptics ForcePad touchpad and the Tobii eye-tracking solution, we’re creating the platform for what just may be the most intuitive user experience to date.
There is an almost endless number of functions and application possibilities that can be developed by pairing the two input methods. Just imagine the potential for the gaming industry; focusing in on your enemy then hammering your pressure-sensitive touchpad to mow them down or maybe toss a grenade… Boom, Virtual Battlefield glory!
We’ll have more to show you here in the near future but, in the meantime, check out the demo videos below and keep an eye out for the device at trade shows this fall!
The brand new Samsung Galaxy S4 is officially here and making quite a splash as Consumer Reports Top-rated Smartphone. Thanks to features like gloved-finger support for cold weather and the first of its kind technology, Air View, users are quickly falling in love with the device.
We worked very closely with Samsung to develop Air View, which is based on Synaptics’ proprietary 3D-touch technology. Developed using patented and proprietary technologies, 3D-touch is the industry’s first capacitive touchscreen solution to offer high performance proximity sensing, meaning users can simply hover their finger over the touchscreen to preview content or execute tasks on their Galaxy S4. This enables a host of new and exciting UI possibilities for touchscreens for both OEMs like Samsung and a variety of app and game developers.
We’re really excited about Air View and our 3D-touch so we wanted to show off some of the cool new features they allow you to do on the S4. In addition to answering calls and viewing text messages, you can preview photos, scroll through video and magnify text in your web browser.
There’s a lot of potential with Synaptics 3D-touch technology but take a look at the video here to see some of the cool stuff you can do with your Samsung Galaxy S4 right now.
How many times have you asked someone why they still have their old feature phone and they answered either, “I just like my keyboard” or “I can’t type without the buttons?” Almost 100% of the time, right? Well, despite the fact that most current smartphones and tablets forego the physical keyboard in lieu of software-based solutions, many consumers still desire that tactile response of pressing a physical button. Well, we’re hoping to fill that void with our recent partnership with Tactus Technology.
You may have caught wind of the Tactus Keyboard earlier this year as it made quite a splash at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The solution incorporates a unique fluid-filled layer that protrudes buttons to provide users with a physical keyboard on smartphones and tablets when needed and can recede back into the screen when not, thus creating both a raised physical keyboard and smooth touchscreen surface at the same time. As Ars Technica’s Florence Ion explains in a recent article on the future of touchscreen development, “Tactus Technology is focused on developing a kind of “microfluidic technology” where buttons rise up based on the fluid pressure on the covered layer. The idea is that the actual buttons only appear when the keypad is in use. Take a look at this demo video to see it in action:
We enjoyed Tactus’ concept so much that we’ve recently partnered with the company to develop a 7” Android-powered reference design tablet to begin showcasing the technology with device makers, as reported by TechCrunch. We’re still in the early stages of meetings but there has been quite a bit of interest from tier-one OEMs. If you’re dying to get your hands on a device with the Tactus Keyboard, you should expect to see it in consumer devices sometime around CES 2014.
TouchExplorer, our very own touchscreen performance app, is now uploaded and ready for download on the Google Play store. You can directly access the app with the badge below, or of course, visit Google Play on your Android device.
Within the next couple of weeks, we will also have a physical kit, which includes a suite of accompanying tools (noisy charger, slugs, rulers), videos, and our Android app, ready to pass to customers, partners, and media. Updates and new features will continued to be made and this app will be maintained. Our www.synaptics.com/touchexplorer site will be updated. Finally, a Windows Phone 7 version of the app has already been started in preparation for Windows Phone 8.
Fred C does an overview presentation for the ClearPad Family including the hot new HTC OneX featuring the ClearPad 3202 discrete sensor, the InCell Sony Xperia P (the world’s first InCell phone) featuring the ClearPad 3250 sensor and the recently released HTC Evo Design featuring the ClearPad 3250 sensor.
TDDI demonstration on a Qualcomm Dragon Board
Series 7 Tablet solutions for Android IceCream Sandwich and Windows 8 TouchScreen requirements
At Qualcom Uplinq we are demonstrating the TDDI technology solution working on the Qualcomm Dragon Board
LG Optimus Vu – Passive Pen
ClearPad™ 7020 Solution
Passive stylus support
5” TFT capacitive touchscreen
LG Optimus Vu
1500 MHz, CDMA / HSDPA
Android OS, 2.3.5 (Gingerbread)
Available. Released March 2012
Synaptics offers to pen based touch solutions, a passive pen and an active pen (compliant to Windows 8 specifications). Both technologies can disambiguate at pen from a finger. The passive solution is the lower cost offering that delivers higher performance than the typical aftermarket pen offering as demonstrated here in linearity and spiral line drawing. Pen offerings are a great way to differentiate your product, and works flawlessly.
Passive Pen demonstration on LG Optimus Vu with ClearPad 7020
TouchPad Remote Control
Sony Google TV
Lenovo TV Remote Control
Remote Controls with TouchPad
Sony Google TV Remote
Sony Google TV solutions are in a SetTopBox configuration NSZ-GS7 and a BlueRay Version NSZ-GP9 feature the Synaptics TouchPad based remote control. Some featured gestures include support for 2 finger scroll, Pinch Zoom and 1f Edge Scrolling. Unlike the old remote control, this one fully makes the best use of TouchPad to provide seamless pointing and gesturing experience.
Lenovo TV Remote
The Lenovo TouchPad remote control features Up Down Left Right OK direction control plus touch support for flicks, showcasing the possibility of TouchPad replacing the traditional direction pad with more enhanced features.
The Bay Area News Group has recognized Synaptics as one of the best companies to work for in 2012. The award honors 75 companies, of which Synaptics ranked 20th in the Midsize category. Companies selected were based on employee surveys conducted by a third party contracted by the Bay Area News Group. The survey factors include Direction, Conditions, Career, Execution, Management and Pay/Benefits of the company.
We are honored to receive this recognition as it speaks to our continued dedication to our most valued asset, our employees. They help foster the innovative culture and build the company in dynamic times.