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

Renesas 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 (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.

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!

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The Chimera Chronicles: How Synaptics’ First DIY Processor Was Born

In every modern Synaptics touch or TDDI chip, there lurks a mythical beast revered throughout history for its undying fierceness. It was born out of stone, fire and human ingenuity, molded at the hand of Federico Faggin, Synaptics’ co-founder and first CEO.

The legendary Chimera microprocessor, much like the Greek mythological figure from which it takes its name, combines many different parts to create one magical, undefeatable whole. Its purpose was, and still is, to pull together multiple processes into one centralized solution, and to do so with power and efficiency.

The story starts in 1996, when Synaptics created its first all-in-one touch controller. The goal was to integrate touch analog circuits, a microprocessor for running firmware, and program and data memories all into a single silicon chip. Finding a commercial core with the immense strength and small stature needed to perform our job proved difficult. So, a crazy alternative was put into action.

Creating a processor from scratch seemed like a foolhardy task, but we had inspiration – Faggin had built several noteworthy microprocessors in his time, including the Intel 4004, the world’s first microprocessor chip.

Nine months after the conception of the plan, we had created our first integrated touch chip, called the T1004 (which has a processor still shipping in today’s T1007!). Eventually, we embarked on a more scalable design. We christened that final product with the “Chimera” moniker, after the mythological beast of Greek lore.

Chimera 1.0 was smaller and cheaper than the standard alternative, yet proved to be much more adept at the intricate control functions that encompass Synaptics firmware. As the touch world continues to move from simple profile sensors to multi-touch transcapacitive imagers (plus proximity, gloves, In-Cell, Single-Layer, and so on), our firmware’s needs have consequently grown and changed in character, and Chimera has evolved to match them.

We’re proud of what we created almost 20 years ago, and the Chimera monster has stood the test of time thus far. So, what is next? Bringing more scalability and better power management to larger memories is a natural fit for our current chip road map.

Beyond that: Chimera is all ours, so we can adapt it to meet the market’s every demand.

As they say, heroes are remembered, but legends never die.

You can follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp

Synaptics 2014 Human Interface Index Sheds Light on Touchscreen Use in Asia

Did you know that a majority of Asians (61 percent, in fact) find themselves interacting with a touchscreen in the morning before interacting with their spouse or family? This is just one example of the pervasiveness of capacitive touchscreens in the daily lives of the Asian population, highlighted this week in Synaptics’ first-ever Asia Human Interface Index.

The Human Interface Index surveyed more than 2,000 consumers across China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea to gain an understanding of how Asians use capacitive touchscreens in their daily lives and their overall perceptions of the technology.

The infographic below highlights some of our key findings.

For example, what do Asians love most about touchscreens? Ease-of-use, fast performance and the intuitive, interactive experience topped the list. They also see the technology as significantly enhancing the user experience when it comes to gaming, handwriting with a stylus, and interaction with photos and videos.

Where do they want to see updates? Resizable buttons, integration with voice command and multi-gesture touch capability were most frequently noted.

Surveys like our Human Interface Index help Synaptics better understand the end user so that we can continue to provide the absolute best touchscreen experience possible. Plus, it’s just fun to see the results. That said, keep an eye out for more interesting data from Synaptics in the future!

 

Synaptics_Human_Interface_Infograpic_Final

 

You can follow Synaptics on Twitter at @SynaCorp.

Five Questions with Synaptics Biometrics Guru, Sebastien Taveau

With last year’s acquisition of Validity Sensors, Synaptics gained a world-class team of engineers and business experts in the fast-growing world of biometrics and fingerprint authentication. Among them is Sebastien Taveau, a 20+ year tech industry veteran and a well-known thought leader on the topic of mobile authentication, payments and security.

We are very excited to have Sebastien join the team here at Synaptics, and we recently caught up with him to learn a bit more about his new role at Synaptics and his vision for how biometrics technology will impact our lives in the future.

Sebastien Taveau, SynapticsHere’s some of what he had to say…

1. What is your role at Synaptics?

I am the chief evangelist for Synaptics’ newly established Biometrics Product Division (BPD). If you’re wondering what that actually means – it means that I help to bridge the technology and products developed within Synaptics BPD to real-world uses cases. I help explain, in everyday terms, how biometrics and fingerprint ID technology will impact our day-to-day lives and society as a whole. I do this through speaking engagements, interviews and more. It’s also my job to maintain a deep understanding of the biometrics industry and its progression, and regularly feed this knowledge back into the BPD.

2. Can you give us an update on Synaptics’ integration of Validity?

Since the acquisition of Validity, Synaptics has seamlessly integrated Validity’s engineering team to accelerate innovation for our line of Natural ID fingerprint sensors. The team continues to seek ways to push the envelope for fingerprint ID. For example, the Holy Grail in this market is to capture the fingerprint sensor beneath the active display or “glass” in device touchscreens vs. a discrete button. This has never been done before, but once it’s achieved, fingerprint ID will be that much more powerful and seamless for the user. With Validity as the expert in fingerprint ID and Synaptics as the expert in touchscreens, it’s the perfect coupling to achieve this major next step in mobile authentication.

3. What progress do you see happening in the biometrics industry in the next year?

This year will be big for kicking off the ascent of biometrics into the mainstream. We’re seeing a huge amount of interest from some of the world’s biggest brands. For example, take the FIDO Alliance, of which Synaptics is a founding member. The goal of the FIDO Alliance is to establish open, scalable and interoperable standards for mobile online authentication. In the one year since FIDO was established we’ve seen membership skyrocket from six members in 2013 to more than 100 members in 2014, including brands like MasterCard, RSA and Bank of America. We’ll continue to see increased standardization and regulation, as well as increased access to open APIs – measures that will continue to fuel innovation and exciting new biometric use cases in the months to come.

4. Beyond unlocking phones, how will fingerprint ID technology impact lives in the future?

In the future, fingerprint ID will become more invisible, but it will be there in the background, connecting us to our surroundings in ways we haven’t even imagined yet, especially as more of the environment around us becomes interconnected through sensors, etc. The online experience will become hyper customized – an experience I refer to as “the Internet of me.” While active authentication will still be necessary for things like mobile commerce transactions, it’s the emergence of passive (i.e. invisible) authentication where things really start to look exciting! For example, imagine renting a car and as you touch the door, the seat, in-cabin temperature, even the radio is automatically set to your desired preferences before you get inside. Connecting to your smartphone, your itinerary is then automatically uploaded to the navigation system – this is hyper customization of the connected experience; this is the Internet of me.

5. So tell us, can someone chop off our finger to gain access to our data?

This is a funny question that I hear all the time. I recently wrote a blog post that provides an in-depth answer, but the short answer is no. The fingerprint sensor technology is built in a way that the fingerprint image has to be taken from a live finger. As I’ve said before, if someone is compelled to chop off your finger to access your smartphone, you likely have bigger problems!

If you’re interested in catching up with Sebastien and hearing more, he’ll be sharing his thoughts at the following upcoming industry events:

Synaptics Engineers Amaze at Second Annual Hackathon

By: Justin Mockler, Usability Engineer

HackathonLast 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.

Follow Synaptics on Twitter @SynaCorp

Synaptics New Headquarters: Bigger, Better and Greener Too

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.

 

Have A Ball Foundation: A Huge Win in the Fight Against Cancer

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/.