Explained: How Sensel's radical trackpad technology is better than Apple's

Sensel Haptic Touchpad 2021
Sensel Haptic Touchpad 2021 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • The ThinkPad X1 Titanium is equipped with the first trackpad to utilize Sensel's Force Touch technology.
  • Its force-sensing resistor utilizes quantum tunneling chance increases to improve tracking accuracy.
  • It can accurately track your fingers even if you're wearing gloves.
  • Linus Tech Tips did a really good deep-dive into how it all works.

The ThinkPad X1 Titanium is packing the first trackpad to incorporate Sensel's Force Touch technology. Here are a few of the reasons this trackpad matters: It's small, thin, and convenient, it includes vastly better tracking accuracy than traditional trackpads, and you don't need to worry about breakage since parts aren't moving. And above all of that, it means Windows laptops are finally getting haptics to rival — and possibly surpass — Apple's.

Not only is Sensel's trackpad's longevity a big boon since no one wants to go through the hassle of replacing a broken trackpad, but the new tech also means that you'll be able to wear gloves while using it and still be tracked with exceptional accuracy. And as for how it beats Apple's haptics? That all boils down to Sensel's solution's size and superior input feedback delivery methodology.

Linus, of Linus Tech Tips fame, does a good job breaking down the minutia about how Sensel's technology works and what it means for users. Check out his video that breaks down the science behind how Sensel's force-sensing resistor (FSR) tech works. Here's a great, out-of-context quote from the video wherein Linus explains how the conductive particles respond to the force a user applies:

As a force is applied to the FSR, the chances of quantum tunneling between these particles increases, which increases the chances of electrons hippity-hopping between the conductive particles, decreasing the resistance of the FSR.

According to the video, the people at Sensel say that experts don't actually agree on the mechanisms behind FSR. So, the fancy, jargon-laden quote above is more of a postulated theory. And that theory ultimately translates to a physical trackpad you can use with near-perfect performance while wearing gloves.

Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.