Computers

Synaptics SmartBar brings capacitive touch capabilities to the spacebar

Synaptics' SmartBar technology turns the spacebar into a customizable touch interface
Synaptics' SmartBar technology turns the spacebar into a customizable touch interface
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Synaptics' SmartBar technology turns the spacebar into a customizable touch interface
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Synaptics' SmartBar technology turns the spacebar into a customizable touch interface
SmartBar allows various functions to be controlled via the spacebar
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SmartBar allows various functions to be controlled via the spacebar

Numerous manufacturers have beenintegrating touchpads into keyboards for a while now – some of which even boasttouch panels that that allow switching between different modes. But San Jose-basedSynaptics is taking touch technology where it has never been before. ItsSmartBar technology turns the spacebar into a touch interface that is alwayswithin thumb's reach.

The spacebar actually makes a lot of sense for the addition of capacitive touchsensing technology, as it's where most users naturally rest their thumbs whentyping. Assuming the problem of false inputs have been solved, the SmartBar could offer aspeed boost to users by negating the need to reach for the mouse to perform certain functions.

SmartBar allows various functions to be controlled via the spacebar
SmartBar allows various functions to be controlled via the spacebar

For example, holding the left thumb stationaryon the space bar and sliding the right thumb left and right can be used to verticallyscroll a page, while moving both thumbs closer or further apart can be used to zoom inand out. Additionally, a thumb swipe in either direction can be used to selecttext, while pushing the spacebar with both thumbs can launch a customizable popup menu, the options of which can be scrolled through and selected using just thespacebar.

The SmartBar's functions can be customizedby the user, with the ability to define five individual buttons along the length of the spacebar that can beused to trigger macros programmed in using the accompanying macro editor.

Synaptics is making the technology availableto OEMs and is specifically targetingdesktop PCs and notebooks. One of the first companies to take advantage of thetechnology is Thermaltake's gaming accessory division, Tt eSPORTS, so expect tosee some SmartBar-packing keyboards in the not-too-distant future.

Source: Synaptics

2 comments
DonGateley
This invention is so totally obvious that I can't remotely imagine how I didn't think of it. :-) Now if they can make it a stick-on with Bluetooth connection... Or, wait, perhaps that remains to be invented. :-) again.
Mark Salamon
Ingenious, and for many users it might prove to be an efficient and helpful feature. I have a hunch that my own clumsy fingers would be contributing too many "false inputs", and I'd soon want to disable the capacitive functions of the SmartBar. I already have enough trouble with unintended gestures while using a touchpad and keyboard! But I'll admit my hands are probably less agile than the average person...