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Synaptics Incorporated
S&P 400 Component
IndustryComputer hardware and software
Founded1986; 36 years ago (1986)
California, U.S.
FoundersFederico Faggin
Carver Mead
HeadquartersSan Jose, California, U.S.
ClearPad touch controllers
Natural ID and Clear ID fingerprint sensors
ClearView display drivers
TouchView TDDI
AudioSmart DSPs and SOCs
VideoSmart processors
ImagingSmart processors
RevenueIncrease US$1.339 Billion (Fiscal Year Ended June 26, 2021)[1]
Increase US$0.147 Billion (Fiscal Year Ended June 26, 2021)[1]
Decrease US$0.079 Billion (Fiscal Year Ended June 26, 2021)[1]
Total assetsIncrease US$2.226 Billion (Fiscal Year Ended June 26, 2021)[1]
Total equityIncrease US$0.967 Billion (Fiscal Year Ended June 26, 2021)[1]
Number of employees
1,463 (2021)[1]

Synaptics is a publicly owned San Jose, California-based developer of human interface (HMI) hardware and software, including touchpads for computer laptops; touch, display driver, and fingerprint biometrics technology for smartphones; and touch, video and far-field voice technology for smart home devices and automotives. Synaptics sells its products to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and display manufacturers.

Synaptics invented the computer touchpad, the click wheel on the classic iPod, Android phones' touch sensors, touch and display driver integrated chips (TDDI), and fingerprint sensors.



Federico Faggin and Carver Mead founded Synaptics in 1986.[2][3] They used their research on neural networks and transistors on chips to build pattern recognition products.[4] In 1991, Synaptics patented a refined "winner take all" circuit for teaching neural networks how to recognize patterns and images. The circuit uses basic physics principles in order to select the strongest signal from the different processors.[5]

In 1992, the company used the pattern recognition techniques it developed to build the world's first touchpad for laptop computers that allowed users to control the cursor and click with no additional mechanical buttons. The pad was a replacement for trackballs and mice used at the time.[4] By 1994, Twinhead and Epson America had adopted Synaptics' touchpad for their computers (Epson with the ActionNote),[6] followed by Apple in 1995[7] and later by other computer manufacturers, including Compaq and Dell.[8]


In 1999, Francis Lee took over as CEO.[2] The company had an initial public offering in 2002.[9] As adoption of the touchpad grew, Synaptics sought to integrate the technology with other products.[10] In 2004, Apple debuted the iPod Mini and fourth-generation iPod, both featuring a scrolling click wheel that used Synaptics' capacitive touch technology. Synaptics also provided a similar but vertical click wheel for the Creative Zen Touch portable media player.[11]

In 2005, Synaptics sensors were featured in the Samsung B310, the first mobile phone to use capacitive-touch technology.[7] In October 2006, Synaptics provided a live demonstration of the Onyx, a concept smartphone with a color touchscreen enabled by its ClearPad touch controller technology. The Onyx's touch sensor could tell the difference between a finger and a cheek, preventing accidental inputs during calls.[12][13][14] The company's touch technology was used in LG's Prada phone in 2007, which was the world's first mobile phone with a capacitive touchscreen.[7]

In 2009, Synaptics announced the development of the Fuse concept smartphone. It had touch sensitivity on the back of the phone, the ability to interact with the phone by squeezing, animated icons, a user interface sensitive to the phone's orientation and tilt, and haptic gestures.[15][16][17]


In 2011, the company appointed Rick Bergman to succeed Francis Lee as CEO.[18]

In 2012, Synaptics introduced the first pressure recognizing touchscreen, which allowed multi-finger and variable-force input.[19] In late 2013, Synaptics acquired Validity Sensors, a fingerprint sensor vendor, adding fingerprint sensing technology to the company.[20][21]

Synaptics acquired Renesas SP Drivers Inc., a Japanese company specializing in chips that manage LCD displays, in 2014.[22] The acquisition enabled Synaptics to combine touch and display driver technologies into a single "TDDI" (Touch and Display Driver Integration) chip.[23]

In 2015, the company expanded into additional markets, including automotive, wearables and PC peripherals.[24][25] In July 2015, Synaptics announced a unique “match-in-sensor” fingerprint authenticator for laptops and other devices that authenticates the fingerprint within the chip.[26][27]

The company introduced its first optical-based fingerprint sensor in December 2016, which would allow the sensor to be placed under smartphones' glass displays rather than under a separate button.[28][29] After improving the technology, the company sent it into full production a year later.[30] In January 2018, the Chinese company Vivo announced a smartphone featuring Synaptics' optical fingerprint sensor. This was the world’s first full-production smartphone with fingerprint authentication directly in the OLED display.[31][32]

In July 2017, Synaptics acquired Conexant Systems, an Amazon Alexa partner that creates voice and audio software and silicon products for smart homes.[33][34] At the same time, Synaptics acquired Marvell Technology Group's Multimedia Solutions unit, which creates video and audio processing technology. The two acquisitions were intended to aid Synaptics' expansion into the Internet of things (IoT) market.[35]

In August 2019, the board of directors appointed Michael Hurlston as the new CEO.[36] Under Hurlston's leadership the company focused on growing its IoT business, expanding from its focus on sensors on glass towards development of low-power sensors to IoT devices.[37]

In July 2020, Synaptics acquired DisplayLink,[38] the developer of software and semiconductors that connect visual devices to computers.[39]

The company expanded its IoT portfolio through the acquisitions of Broadcom's wireless IoT business assets and manufacturing rights in July 2020 and DSP Group in December 2021.[38] From the Broadcom acquisition, Synaptics acquired Broadcom's existing wireless IoT assets, as well as the development team and two products on the roadmap.[40] The company completed the acquisition of DSP Group, a provider of chipsets for VoIP, multimedia, and digital cordless applications,[41] in December 2021.[42]


As of July 2017, Synaptics held 2000 patents for human technologies.[7] Many Synaptics products are based on capacitive sensing technology, sensing the electrical properties of the finger(s) touching the sensor, as opposed to a resistive touchscreen .[43] Synaptics also has optical sensing technology.[44][28]


Synaptics Clear ID fingerprint sensor

Synaptics' products focus on human technologies. For example:

Touchpad products: Touch-sensitive touchpads.[45][46]

  • ClearPad touch controllers: Capacitive-touch controllers with minimal size and low power requirements, tailored for compact displays and mobile devices.[47][48]
  • Natural ID (capacitive) and Clear ID (optical) fingerprint sensors: Fingerprint authentication sensors combining biometrics and advanced encryption. Synaptics' fingerprint ID sensors can also function within smartphone displays, making it possible to eliminate the home button and bezels around the screen.[49][29]
  • ClearView display drivers: Display driver integrated circuits for LCDs and OLED displays.[50][51]
  • TouchView touch and display controllers with touch and display technology.[52][53]
  • AudioSmart far-field voice DSPs: Audio hardware and software for voice-enabled devices.[54][55]
  • AudioSmart digital headset SoCs: Audio codecs for headsets and other accessories.[56][57]
  • VideoSmart multimedia processors: Technology for TVs, set-top boxes, and over-the-top streaming devices.[58][59][60][61]
  • ImagingSmart image processors: Silicon and software products for document and photo imaging controllers, digital video, fax, and modem.[62][63]

Industry alliances[edit]

Synaptics is a founding member of the FIDO (Fast ID Online) Alliance and the Universal Stylus Initiative (USI).[64][65]


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