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Synaptics' tablet prototype with rear touchpad can tell which hand you're using to hold it

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Much of what we've seen at Synaptics so far has been based on responding to manufacturers' increasingly thin designs, a laudable project that's nonetheless at a pretty early stage. The Sensa tablet, an Android-based reference design that the company tells us was taken from its development labs only a few days before CES, is meant to compensate for increasingly thin tablet bezels like those on the iPad mini with an advanced kind of thumb rejection. The design puts a large touchpad on the back of the tablet, allowing it to detect individual fingers when you hold it. From there, it can extrapolate where a thumb would logically go on the front of the tablet and reject touch in the area around it.

While obviously a prototype, and a buggy one at that, the system was pretty good at detecting my thumb's natural position. The results were mostly predictable — and not, it seemed, all that different from Apple's own iPad mini thumb rejection — but Synaptics also wants developers to write support for the system into their apps, which could result in some interesting interface changes. In the simple e-reader concept we were shown, for example, the app could automatically reflow around your thumb. If edge-to-edge designs like those we're currently seeing on phones start coming to larger form factors, Synaptics could be right on time with a finished technology — so long as nobody wants to put a case on their tablet.