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Nokia taps Synaptics for Lumia's glove-friendly touchscreen tech

Nokia taps Synaptics for Lumia's glove-friendly touchscreen tech


Nokia's new Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 can be used with gloves or fingernails, thanks to Synaptics touchscreen technology.

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As you might have heard this morning, Nokia's new Windows Phone 8 devices have a rather intriguing new feature built right into their screens: you can use the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 with gloves on, or even with your fingernails. The "Super Sensitive Touch" technology isn't wholly a Nokia design, though — it's a feature that Synaptics has added to its ClearPad Series 3 touchscreen digitizer, which means it's quite likely to appear on other devices in the future. Presently, capacitive image touchscreens "see" your fingers by bouncing a signal off them, then measuring disturbances in the waveform. Here, the company basically increases the sensitivity of its sensors on the fly to detect gestures even if they're merely in the same vicinity. Synaptics actually showed off the feature back at the Mobile World Congress show in February of last year, detecting touches through a stack of business cards, but we're pretty sure the new Lumia smartphones are the first to actually use the idea. As much as we like the notion, though, we've got a few reservations. Our handsets are rather sensitive already, if last night's pocket dials were any indication.

Speaking of Synaptics, the company is also working on a number of other interesting things as of late, like thinner, touch-detecting laptop keyboards, force-sensitive mousepads, and touchscreen panels for laptops with up to 17-inch screens.

Update: Synaptics says it has distinct profiles for glove, skin and fingernail applications, and switches between them as necessary, so perhaps pocket dialing won't be such an issue.