Synaptics adds capacitive touch to your spacebar, because why not?

Synaptics logoSynaptics thinks your spacebar is "underutilized," and it wants to fix the problem by adding another touch interface to your PC. Its new "SmartBar," announced today at Computex, is a touch-capable capacitive spacebar with support for several gestures and customizable virtual buttons.

The SmartBar isn't intended as a replacement for a trackpad, but it could potentially save you some trips to the trackpad if it works well. You can program swipe gestures to select words you just typed, allowing you to quickly delete or replace them. You can use both of your thumbs together to perform a pinch-to-zoom gesture. And "up to five" virtual buttons can be programmed on the spacebar to perform macros, replacing common keyboard shortcuts. Other use cases, demonstrated in the graphic above, include using your thumbs to summon and interact with a custom app menu and scrolling vertically through documents or Web pages using only your thumbs.

Synaptics says the SmartBar is available for OEMs to use now, and it will apparently be compatible with both desktops and laptops. ThermalTake is planning a gaming keyboard with a SmartBar—the competitive gaming circuit requires the mastery of vast numbers of keyboard shortcuts, something the SmartBar could hypothetically help with if it can manage to be accurate enough.

Synaptics adds capacitive touch to your spacebar, because why not?

The SmartBar is just the latest of Synaptics' efforts to spice up the plain-old PC. Late last year it announced trackpads with integrated fingerprint sensors that can be used not just for unlocking your laptop, but for replacing the passwords you use to log into various online services. The company also announced a new product called "Natrual ID," a version of the same technology for desktop PC mice. Natural ID mice will support the upcoming Windows Hello feature and FIDO.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: keyboards, technologies

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