By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 6:00 am
Even in the era of the iPhone, devices with touchscreen interfaces aren’t anywhere near pervasive–and some of the gadgets that do have touchscreens aren’t that great. Synaptics, the company that makes touch-input hardware (including a high percentage of the world’s laptop touchpads) aims to help change that with a couple of new touchscreens it’s introducing for hardware makers to incorporate into their gizmos.
The new touchscreens include the ClearPad 1000, a low-cost capacitive model that only offers single-touch input–but which is priced to compete with resistive touchscreens, which aren’t as precise as capacitive ones. (If you’ve ever used a touch-enabled phone whose screen is more frustrating than effortless, chances are good it was a resistive model).
At the high end of the market, Synaptics is selling the ClearPad 3000, a model that allows for gestures involving as many as ten fingers at once. That’s a lot of fingers-and the 3000 is available in sizes up to a roomy eight inches, which means it may show up in tablet computers of the sort that don’t quite exist yet but which lots of people are talking about these days. Synaptics already offers a midrange touchscreen (now called the ClearPad 2000), which offers two-finger multitouch.
Devices with the new screens may begin to show up later this year. It wasn’t all that long ago that gadget screens made the leap from monochrome to color; it wouldn’t stun me if a very high percentage add touch capability over the next few years.