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Synaptics has announced ClearForce technology, coming to devices in early 2016

Today Synaptics announced a new innovation called ClearForce technology that will provide an enhanced level of user interaction with future devices.

Published onOctober 7, 2015

HUAWEI already has a Force Touch-esque product in some markets, but Synaptics plans even bigger things.

Regardless of one’s feelings on Apple’s 3D/Force Touch, it has been presented as a new way of interacting with devices ranging from a computer to a smartphone to even a wrist-worn wearable. HUAWEI already took a similar solution to town with one of its devices, but now it seems Synaptics is about to give the pressure-sensitive medium an even bigger boost: ClearForce technology.

According to the company, 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.” The press release then goes on to mention that “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.”

“With a rich history in force technology dating back to 1996, including over 60 granted and pending patents worldwide, Synaptics’ third-generation force-sensing solution, ClearForce, enables global OEMs and LCMs to differentiate smartphones — with tablet, wearables, and automotive manufacturers to follow. Variable force creates numerous opportunities to invent new user interface capabilities and increases productivity for touchscreen applications.”

watch force touch
Force Touch as it appears on the Apple Watch. Will Synaptics’ solution offer a superior level of input?

The press release then goes on to list the specific implications of the soon-to-be-sold solution:

  • Variable speed scrolling
  • Picture zoom and panning
  • Function preview and selection
  • Continuously variable gaming control functions
  • Unlock and wake up
  • Right-side mouse click behavior (open contextual menus)
  • Line thickness control while drawing (e.g., when writing Chinese characters and creating artwork)
  • Image editing (brightness, contrast, saturation)
  • Upper case and symbol selection (to bypass keyboard mode changes)

The possible uses of ClearForce are quite varied to say the least, and it will be of particular interest to see how Android OEMs and software developers take advantage of the enhanced usability it provides. Of course, one of the big questions that remains to be answered is just what toll – if any – this new feature will take on the devices using it. Apple’s iPhone 6S has become ever-so-slightly more bulky as a result of the added components needed to imbue its phones with the Force.

What’s your take on this? Are you excited by ClearForce and the potential it may unlock, or are you decidedly against the newfangled “push to touch” technology?

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