Apple opened a can of worms when it debuted an advanced implementation of the Force Touch feature found on its smartwatch, the Apple watch, on its new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Dubbed 3D Touch, it allows users to apply different levels of pressure on the iPhone’s display to do various things like say take a selfie without opening the camera application. Since the iPhone is a mass market product that sells in the tens of millions every year, it has become a trendsetter. Any feature that makes it to the iPhone is bound to make it to competing devices. It wasn’t going to be long before we saw an implementation of some sort of 3D Touch on rivals’ smartphones (and tablets and laptops as well) and with a new product from Synaptics, that may happen sooner than we thought.
Synaptics’ latest iteration of its force-sensing solution, ClearPad, will be available to device makers to incorporate in their devices and with a new year in the offing, we might see it power 3D Touch-like functionality in some of the flagship devices slated for release early in 2016. ClearPad has features like ClearForce and SideTouch that allow users to apply different levels of pressure on their device displays to perform some actions quickly and use the device bezels to scroll without interfering with whatever is happening on the device display.
ClearForce enables OEMs to differentiate smartphones by providing customers with new dimensions in user interfaces such as speed scrolling, zoom, gaming, and text or photo editing by applying variable force with a finger or stylus. Synaptics has been working closely with leading global OEMs and LCMs to deliver this new dimension in touch with force-enabled smartphones expected to ship in early 2016.
Synaptics is a respectable name in the human interface design department and has become synonymous with touch-sensitive interfaces like your laptop’s touchpad and they can be trusted to push the boundaries of what is bound a new battlefield in the quest to differentiate various devices.
Huawei’s new Mate S smartphone was announced with the Chinese device maker’s own implementation of pressure-sensitivity and even though the particular version of the device with “force touch” will be limited to a few markets, it is expected to become a key feature on future releases not just from Huawei but also other vendors like Samsung in their quest to compete with Apple and maintain an edge.