|Traded as||NASDAQ: SYNA
S&P 400 Component
|Headquarters||San Jose, California, U.S.|
|Federico Faggin, Co-founder
Carver Mead, Co-founder
Rick Bergman, CEO
Wajid Ali, CFO
DDIC Display Drivers
|Revenue||$1.72 billion USD (2017)|
|$64.7 million USD (2017)|
|$48.8 million USD (2017)|
Number of employees
Synaptics is a public San Jose, California-based developer of touch-pads for computer laptops, touch-screens, mp3 players, cellular phones and other devices. It describes itself as a human interface solution developer. Synaptics sells its products to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Synaptics was founded in 1986 by scientists and engineers Federico Faggin and Carver Mead, inspired by their interest in neural networks and their applications in technologies. Faggin and Mead applied their research and discoveries on neural networks and transistors on chips to build touch sensing solutions. The name of the company is a portmanteau, blending synapse and electronics.
During Synaptics' early years, the laptop industry was struggling to make devices thinner because the spherical trackballs included in them required thicker device builds. Synaptics' founders recognized this issue and in 1992, used the pattern recognition techniques it developed to build the world's first touchpad, which Apple adopted in 1995. The touchpad was subsequently adopted by other leading computer manufacturers of the time, including Compaq and Dell, launching Synaptics' growth as a company and establishing touchpads as a standard feature in notebook PCs. As integration of the touchpad grew, Synaptics continued to refine its technology, building a vision to integrate it with other solutions and create a range of human interface technologies to expand the company.
Since then, Synaptics' solutions have been adopted in various markets beyond notebook computers. In 2005, Synaptics' sensor technology was featured in the world's first mobile phone to use capacitive-touch technology, the Samsung B310. In 2007, LG launched its Prada phone featuring Synaptics' touch sensors, marking the world's first capacitive-touchscreen mobile phone. Synaptics' touchscreen technology was also featured in Logitech's Harmony family, which debuted in 2008 and brought capacitive-touch capabilities to universal remote controls.
In 2011, current CEO Rick Bergman was appointed to succeed Francis Lee (CEO from 1999-2011) and drive Synaptics' expansion in to new markets.
In 2012, Synaptics introduced the world's first full-function capacitive-touch solution to incorporate pressure recognition (AKA force sensing), enabling multi-finger and variable-force input. The following year, Synaptics acquired Validity Sensors, a fingerprint sensor vendor based in San Jose, adding biometrics and fingerprint sensing to Synaptics' portfolio of solutions.
Synaptics acquired Renesas SP Drivers Inc., a Japanese company specializing in chips that manage LCD displays, in 2014. Synaptics purchased Renesas SP for approximately JPY48.5B ($475 million) for 100% of the company. The acquisition enabled Synaptics to establish an integrated portfolio of touch and display driver technologies.
The company has since expanded in to additional markets including automotive, wearables and PC peripherals in 2015. Synaptics in 2015 had 1600+ granted and pending patents for human interface solutions. In FY15, Synaptics reported $1.703 billion in revenue and cited a +46% compound annual growth rate.
Synaptics products are based on capacitive sensing technology, as opposed to resistive touchscreen technologies. Capacitive touch sensing works by sensing the electrical properties of the finger(s) touching the sensor; a resistive touchscreen senses direct pressure between two clear electrical layers that are separated by a small space, requiring an amount of force. Capacitive touch sensing solutions are solid state, making them more robust than resistive solutions.
Synaptics's human interface solutions are currently based upon the following key technologies:
- Capacitive active pen
- Capacitive force sensing
- Capacitive position sensing
- Display systems and circuit
- Fingerprint sensing
- Mixed-signal integrated circuit
- Pattern recognition
- Proprietary microcontroller
- Transparent capacitive position sensing
This article appears to contain a large number of buzzwords. (May 2017)
Synaptics' core product families deliver touch sensing, display and biometrics solutions. They include touchpads, touch controllers, fingerprint sensors and integrated solutions.
TouchPad Family - touch-sensitive trackpads that sense the position and movement of one or more fingers on their surfaces. the TouchPad's core market is notebook PCs and includes:
- TouchPad- Module enabling user navigation via touch interface
- ClickPad- "Clickable TouchPad" that also serves as a button
- ForcePad- TouchPad with pressure-sensitive scrolling and zooming, and press-to-click capabilities anywhere on the TouchPad
- SecurePad- TouchPad with fingerprint authentication enabling users to authorize online transactions, login to websites and access applications
ClearPad Touch Controllers - Capacitive-touch controllers with minimal size and low power requirements, tailored for specific applications:
- Series 1 - for compact displays
- Series 2 - for smartphone touchscreens
- Series 3 - for more feature-rich mobile device displays
- Series 7 - for tablet, PC, notebook, automotive and other applications requiring larger touchscreens
Natural ID Fingerprint Sensors (Biometrics) - Series of fingerprint authentication sensors, combining biometrics and advanced encryption with security, ease of use and cost efficiency. They feature Synaptics' SentryPoint, which is a suite of security features aggregated to protect users' personal biometric information. Natural ID sensors also function under glass, making it possible to eliminate the home button on smartphones.
ClearView Display Drivers - Display driver integrated circuits (DDIC) with the industry's smallest display ICs and ultra-HD resolution support for more dynamic, design friendly and power-efficient display options, as well as reduced image-load times.
TouchView Integrated Touch and Display Controllers - Solutions integrating touch and display technology in to single and two-chip solutions enabling devices to be thinner and lighter at lower costs. Synaptics touch and display driver integration (TDDI) supports ClearForce for variable force sensing, and ClearView DDIC features for enhancing display brightness, color, contrast and readability in sunlight, and power efficiency. For advanced touch features, TouchView products support virtually all ClearPad touch controller features.
Synaptics is a founding member of the FIDO (Fast ID Online) Alliance and the Universal Stylus Initiative (USI).
The FIDO Alliance is an industry consortium that aims to make authentication stronger and simpler, and to reduce reliance on passwords. Synaptics' Corporate Development Vice President, Adnan Raza, sits on the FIDO Alliance board, representing Synaptics. Other notable Board Members include Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Lenovo, Qualcomm, RSA, Samsung, Bank of America, Visa, Discover, American Express and MasterCard.
USI is an organization of leading OEMs, stylus and touch controller manufacturers driving industry standards to promote interoperable active styluses with touch-enabled devices such as phones, tablets and computing and entertainment platforms. Synaptics' Senior Director of Integrated Display and Touch Products, Jeff Lukanc, is Vice President of USI.
Manufacturing & supply chain
Synaptics' manufacturing operations are based on a variable cost model in which it outsource all of its production requirements and generally drop ship its products directly to its customers from its contract manufacturers’ facilities. This eliminates the need for significant capital expenditures and allows the company to minimize its investment in inventories.
The company provides its contract manufacturers with six-month rolling forecasts and issue purchase orders based on anticipated requirements for the next 90 days. It uses two third-party wafer manufacturers to supply wafers and four third-party packaging manufacturers to package its proprietary ASICs.
In certain cases, it relies on a single source or a limited number of suppliers to provide other key components of its products.
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