Our very own Sascha Segan knows phones inside and out, both smart ones and dumb ones. So his recent analysis of the device was on-target and insightful. He made mention of the cool new interface that's used by the iPhone (or whatever Apple ends up calling it).
"Among the iPhone's many innovations is "multitouch"--an interface where you can, say, pinch things on the screen with two fingers and drag your fingers apart to make the items bigger. It's just one of many radical, intuitive elements in this phone that I hope other manufacturers will copy."
While Apple is a very resourceful, very innovative company, they sure didn't come up with that no-hands interface. At least, not as far as I can tell.
I had several conversations with Synaptics back in late July and early August, when they first announced a brand-new interface technology they had spent a few years developing. The major innovation was a clear, capacitive sensing technology, called ClearPad. In a nutshell, this is the physical hardware behind the iPhone--Apple just put a nice graphical interface on it. But don't take my word for it. Here's a direct quote from Synaptics description of the ClearPad technology:
"ClearPad is based on Synaptics' proprietary sensing technology, and will offer unique capabilities such as two finger input, proximity sensing, text entry and high resolution finger input that can dramatically improve and enhance the user experience with a touch screen."
Needless to say, Synaptics' officially refuses to comment on the matter one way or the other, so we'll have to make up our own minds on this matter. Why not go to the company's site and see it for yourself? There's a neat prototype phone that they developed in conjunction with design firm Pilotfish called Onyx. It even looks like the iPhone. Or you can read the news story we wrote about this technology and the prototype back in August.
I'm not bashing Apple in anyway, of course. Part of creating something new and wonderful is assembling the right parts in just such a way. And putting together beautiful, intelligent gizmos in ways no one else can is something those crazy Cupertinos excel at. But as a technology fiend, I like to know who the real innovators are--and give credit where credit is due. A tip of the cap to Synaptics!