As one of our primary senses, touch is a natural way we interact with the world around us, including the intelligent devices we use every day. Although the first touchscreen device was conceptualized 50 years ago, smartphones have been the catalyst for rapid innovations in touch interfaces over the past five years. Looking forward, touch will become a ubiquitous human interface, expanding far beyond just smartphones, and Synaptics is leading the way.
Consumers require and expect touch experiences to perform seamlessly in every situation and every application. By combining various types of smart sensors, such as touch and biometrics, your personal device will know what you’re doing, saying, looking at, what you want and how you feel. To harness this potential, touch needs to go beyond just touch and become more intuitive, more predictive and more human.
Reaching these capabilities starts by melding a great touch experience with customer performance expectations. The touch experience needs to be prepared to handle all types of conditions. The first of variable is moisture. Smart devices must be able to work when there is wet atmosphere. Whether you’re stuck in the rain or cooling down from a run, devices need to work in every environment.
The smart device must also work when the user is wearing gloves. As was the case with moisture, wearing gloves is a situational element and the expectation is that a device should be able to detect touch through gloves whether you’re skiing the Alps or playing 18 holes at Pebble Beach.
Touch must also be intuitive enough to allow users to preview before making a selection. Not too long ago, Rick Bergman wrote about a new dimension in touch. By hovering above the screen, you should be able to preview an e-mail before it’s opened, or zoom in on pictures and maps – so that your device is anticipating your actions.
As touch becomes more ubiquitous, we’ll begin to see these new features and levels of functionality impact new vertical markets. Some example include:
- Lifestyle: We’re already seeing how interactive maps can provide a richer shopping experience in malls and retail centers. Touch is also enabling new ways to experience life in areas such as gaming and virtual reality.
- Fitness: Sensors are being implemented into touch enabled products that can improve fitness and skills; stats and data can be tabulated, reported and analyzed.
- Home: Adding touch display interfaces to home appliances allows people to control their devices more easily. A perfect example of this is smart refrigerators that are intelligent enough to display healthy recipes based on the food located inside.
- Automotive: Based on consumer expectation, cars now include multiple displays with multiple touch interfaces. The experience is amplified through the use of force and haptic feedback.
- Wearables: Wearables is one of the fastest growing smart device segments with more than 40 million units expected to ship in 2015, and support for flexible touch/displays is critical for the this growth.
Innovations in touch sensing, combined with display technologies, continue to transform the human computer interface. With best in class display drivers and touch sensing technologies, Synaptics is poised to extend these ideas further and create more enriched experiences.