If you’ve been complaining about the thickness of your trackpad, Synaptics has something to show you. Their new Forcepad trackpad technology is wafer thin and uses a capacitive force sensor to register clicks and taps. The new trackpad offers 64 levels of sensitivity and can sense five fingers at once. There is no physical switch inside the trackpad so you won’t be able to “click” the pad anymore, but a sharp tap should get the job done.
Because there is no switch, the touchpad is far thinner than previous models and you can do a few clever tricks including controlling the scroll speed based on touchpad pressure. The technology should start making its way into hardware in 2013 so expect to see thinner, lighter laptop chassis in the next half year or so.
In addition to the touchpad technology, Synaptics is also working on ThinTouch capacitive keyboard keys. Unlike current keyboards that use “scissor” springs to pop back up when you touch them, these use capacitive controls that push the keys back up and can register the force of the keypress.
Anandtech notes that this could reduce the width of a keyboard by 50%, a great potential space savings for ultralight laptops.