Touchscreens that track two fingers will soon seem basic. At least, that is, if you compare them with the multitouch-sensor ClearPad 3000 Series, recently announced by California-based Synaptics.
The transparent sensor tracks up to 10 simultaneous finger touches, making possible complex multi-finger gestures, such as closing an application by 'crumpling' it with several fingers, or playing polyphonic sounds on a virtual piano keyboard.
Apple made multitouch popular with its iPhone, which debuted about four months after Synaptics introduced its currently shipping two-finger sensor, ClearPad 2000, in August 2006. Although it's widely speculated that Apple is using Synaptics' technology, it hasn't been confirmed.
One phone that does use the sensor is the T-Mobile G1, made by HTC. Samsung and LG are also confirmed customers.
The new sensor features an accuracy of plus/minus 1mm, is 0.3mm thick and is available in sizes of up to 203mm (8 inches) diagonally.
That supported screen size, and the speculated relationship between Synaptics and Apple, makes us wonder if this sensor is what Apple's been waiting for in order to launch its much-rumoured tablet.
Synaptics is also introducing a more basic model, the ClearPad 1000 Series, that supports single-finger gestures, such as tapping, pressing and flicking. These sensors are available in sizes of up to 109mm (4.3 inches) diagonally.
The company says manufacturers already have the sensors in hand, and consumers can expect products containing them by the end of the year.
The sensors use capacitive technology, usually considered to be more sensitive than resistive sensors. Capacitive sensors cannot be used with a stylus or a glove though, as opposed to resistive sensors.