Anyone who has ever used a TrackPad (generally on a laptop or notepad) aka TouchPad, knows that they are just not nearly as precise as a desktop mouse, especially when used in odd positions, such as laying down. At times movements are misunderstood and the cursor winds up in some undesired location, other times actions occur that are nothing short of maddening. Synaptics, the leading maker of TrackPads, and parts and pieces for them, has come up with a solution, the ForcePad. GizModo calls it the next logical step, while Popular Science calls it a pressure sensitive TrackPad.
The idea behind the ForcePad, PopSci says, is to make using a mouse-like device more accurate, and to have it be somewhat smaller too seeing as how laptops are rapidly evolving into Ultrabooks, which of course are super thin laptops or notebooks. To that end, they say, the ForcePad, which Synaptics is making for sale immediately to OEMs, is doing away with the familiar click that has been around since the invention of the mouse. That’s right, no more clicking on icons to launch applications or highlight text, etc. Instead, the ForcePad allows for more simultaneous input by listening to all four fingers and thumb at once. Imagine the pad devices in Sci Fi movies used to identify people. The ForcePad goes one better by not just scanning the fingers and or palm, but by measuring how much pressure is applied by each. Imagine, for example, they say, pressing two finger against the pad and moving the pressure from one finger to the other to indicate moving backwards or forwards through a picture slide show. That’s sort of like using the backward and forward arrows on a keyboard.
The result, PopSci says, is likely to be a revolution in TrackPads; partly because this new technology is better, and partly because Synaptics has something like seventy percent of the market. If they start selling these things to laptop makers as the default input device, users will get them whether they want them or not. But the will want them, because after getting used to them, users will like them better, at least according to Synaptics. They note that taking clicking out of the equation leaves users with a device that is far more efficient. Users don’t have to pick up their hands or fingers, they can just leave them on the ForcePad, seemingly still, to the casual onlooker. Action comes from just the slightest bit of pressure and will be ever so much more controllable because of having more fingers in the pie, so to speak.