Synaptics are no strangers to the pages of SlashGear, and we've been lucky enough to have hands-on experience in the past with their clever touchscreen concept cellphone. Back in those pre-iPhone days the idea of an intuitive multitouch UI on a mobile device was pretty far-fetched, with Windows Mobile offering little in the way of finger-friendliness. Now Synaptics are back with their latest reference design; called 'Boomerang', it's a multi-device remote control that uses the company's capacitive touch-sensitive panels.
Now touchscreen-based universal remotes aren't new - Philips' Pronto has been around for years - but having multitouch and gesture support in them certainly is. Synaptics describe the interface as using "direct cursor-control", where users can navigate to every surface of the remote, and the trio of Pinch, ChiralMotion and Momentum gestures for commands such as volume, zoom and scrolling are all available.
"Today, most universal remotes allow control of standard home equipment such as TVs, DVDs and stereos - Boomerang goes one step further to control equipment and functions, such as pausing a TV show to purchase an item shown on the screen and transferring data between multiple devices" Mark Vena, VP PC Business Unit, Synaptics
Boomerang is fitted with haptic feedback as well as the more traditional audio and visual indications of touchscreen use, and proximity sensors bring the remote to life - powering it on and ramping up the backlight - when a user approaches, and then doing the reverse when they move away. The DualMode function includes a visual representation of the different areas of home entertainment controlled by Boomerang, to avoid pages and pages of sub-menus.
It's not clear whether this is an implementation of Synaptics' OneTouch toolset, intended to fast-track OEMs in adopting multitouch-capable capacitive controls, but the company is clear that the technology is ready and waiting for inclusion in - likely high-end - systems. As anyone who has used an iPhone or iPod Touch will likely have surmised, capacitive touchscreens are very much the future, and I imagine the first consumer product to use the functionality Boomerang demonstrates will be released very soon.
We're hoping to have some hands-on time with Boomerang very soon, so keep reading SlashGear for our first-impressions!