Synaptics often has to retrofit its cutting-edge hardware into existing consumer hardware, but for this, had to manufacture Sensa entirely from scratch. The company's Andrew Hsu told us that this proof-of-concept unit was wrenched from the company's R&D labs days before the show began, and is still at a very early early point in its development.
Senssa's rear shell is divided into halves, each of which uses Forcepad technology to calculate the force being exerted upon it. That way, the software can essentially ignore the touches of whatever paw it thinks is gripping the device. The company has also developed software to demonstrate its potential -- including an e-reader app that wraps text around any extended digit in order to preserve the flow of your text.
Hsu told us that when the iPad Mini debuted with its own rudimentary grip-sensing hardware, Synaptics was heartened to continue development on its own. The company also anticipates bezels shrinking in the future, and so is working on an interaction technology that'll let users tile tablets in the future. We should see a four-tablet air hockey game ready to play with at Mobile World Congress in February.
While we were there, we also asked Hsu about the rumored future for Haptic displays. He said that the challenge isn't to create a sensation, but to build one that's illusory enough to trick users minds into believing what they feel is real. He said it's certainly something the company is working on, but isn't at the point where it's going to be making its way into next generation devices.
Dana Murph contributed to this report.