Numerous manufacturers have been integrating touchpads into keyboards for a while now – some of which even boast touch panels that that allow switching between different modes. But San Jose-based Synaptics is taking touch technology where it has never been before. Its SmartBar technology turns the spacebar into a touch interface that is always within thumb's reach.
The spacebar actually makes a lot of sense for the addition of capacitive touch sensing technology, as it's where most users naturally rest their thumbs when typing. Assuming the problem of false inputs have been solved, the SmartBar could offer a speed boost to users by negating the need to reach for the mouse to perform certain functions.
The SmartBar's functions can be customized by the user, with the ability to define five individual buttons along the length of the spacebar that can be used to trigger macros programmed in using the accompanying macro editor.
Synaptics is making the technology available to OEMs and is specifically targeting desktop PCs and notebooks. One of the first companies to take advantage of the technology is Thermaltake's gaming accessory division, Tt eSPORTS, so expect to see some SmartBar-packing keyboards in the not-too-distant future.