Interactive Displays 2009: Synaptics – G1 Touch Sensor Sips Power, iPhone Doesn’t


G1 & Envy I met up with Dr. Andrew Hsu, Product Marketing Manager at Synaptics during the Interactive Displays 2009 conference today in downtown San Jose. Synaptics is the company that is known for its high-end capacitive touch technology. T-Mobile’s G1, a.k.a. the “Google Phone”, sports Synaptics touch technology on its display as does the multitouch trackpad on the VooDoo Envy.


Simple & Solo As you can see from the picture above, Synaptics display sensor is quite simple and it is put on top of the G1’s LCD. It is single touch technology. But you’re asking, “Isn’t Apple’s iPhone multitouch and therefore better?” Well, yes, I think multitouch is better and I am sure Synaptics is working on it. (Update: The Synaptics’ ClearPad sensor is multitouch; it depends on how the OEM implements it.) But there is something that I learned that will surprise you.

Power Monger According to Dr. Hsu, the capacitive touch sensor on the G1 has a “nominal current draw” that is less than 0.5 mA. That value “incorporates power management that is built into” the touch sensor on the G1, which automatically powers off the sensor when not in use. Dr. Hsu estimates that the iPhone’s touch sensor can consume 25x that amount and “does not account for any power management that might be done by the iPhone sensor or the iPhone itself.” Maybe that explains, to some extent, why the iPhone won’t last very long when you’re playing a lot of games that require touching.


What you see above is the multitouch trackpad sensor from Synaptics that go into the VooDoo Envy. Looks quite interesting, doesn’t it?


Here’s that touch sensor on the Envy. Looks a lot nicer!


And here’s what it looks like from the back. I have high-resolution pictures available. If you want them, just send me an email.

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