The future will be here soon. In 2022, to be exact. That’s because two companies are teaming up to bring haptic-based piezo trackpads to Windows PCs. Kind of a big deal for the hardware ecosystem.
Trackpads are not something most people spend much time thinking — they are there, and they work.
But seeing as they are the first modality that folks interact with on their laptops, the trackpad experience is crucial to customer satisfaction. Reason why Microsoft set the standard with the Precision driver initiative, which is now mandatory for Windows 11.
However, these leave a lot to be desired compared to next-generation designs.
The current implementation is based on capacitive interaction and physically moving components, and this makes the not only prone to breakage, but also leave these trackpads with phantom dead zones. Not to mention, they are fundamentally inaccurate.
These trackpads can be as thin as 1.8mm, which makes them much slimmer than the 4mm that traditional trackpads are. And instead of capacitive or FSR actuators, they make use of piezo actuators. Sensors using this technology look like thin flat disks that can both be sensors and generate haptics.
Plus, due to how piezo haptics work, you will feel like you are clicking when you press down.
This haptic feedback technology has already been implemented in devices like the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga and the Apple MacBook. Now, it is set to arrive on everyday Windows laptops, starting with the premium models and ultrabooks first, of course.
Perhaps, Microsoft will also get to work on the software side of things with Windows 11, now that this new technology is on the horizon.
In short, we are going to get much more accurate trackpads that can detect force, and will not fail due to moving parts, all in even thinner dimensions with no more dead zones or phantom clicks.
And these little gadgets can’t come soon enough.