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Windows 11 laptop trackpads take big step toward competing with Apple's Force Touch

Surface Laptop 3 13.5
Surface Laptop 3 13.5 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Boréas and Cirque unveiled the GlideSense trackpad module with Boréas Piezo Haptic Trackpad technology this week.
  • The module allows PC makers to utilize haptic feedback on Windows 11.
  • The technology helps Windows laptops compete with Apple hardware that uses Force Touch.

Windows 11 laptops could get a big boost when it comes to trackpads, thanks to technology that Boréas and Cirque just unveiled. The two companies announced GlideSense with Boréas Piezo Haptic Trackpad technology earlier this week. The trackpad module allows PC makers to take advantage of haptic feedback in Windows 11. In its press release, Boréas says this new technology will allow Windows trackpads to compete with Apple's Force Touch.

Haptic trackpads are complex and involve multiple layers working together. In short, they allow you to feel like you're clicking on a trackpad without requiring moving parts. They offer several advantages over traditional trackpads, including lower power consumption, reduced failure rate due to a lack of moving parts, and laptops being able to be considerably thinner.

Our executive editor Daniel Rubino breaks them down in depth, including a comparison of how Apple, Sensel, and Boréas approach things differently.

Source: Boréas (Image credit: Source: Boréas)

Here's the relevant excerpt from Rubino's coverage in relation to this week's news:

In short, the big deal here is we're going to get much more accurate trackpads that can detect force (a new dimension), won't fail due to moving parts, all in laptops that can be thinner (or have even more space for the battery). No more dead zones, no more phantom clicks.Best of all, because of how piezo haptics work, you'll feel like you're clicking when you press down. It's trippy stuff, but anyone who has used the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga or an Apple MacBook knows what I'm talking about: Haptics trick the brain into sensing something that isn't happening.

One of the main benefits of the approach Boréas is taking is that it's scalable. Boréas and Cirque can work together to mass-produce components for several PC manufacturers. Because of this, trackpads that use this technology could be seen in a wide range of devices from big-name companies.

Microsoft recently jumped in on the haptic trend with the new Surface Laptop Studio, which uses a custom-designed trackpad. While Microsoft created it, the underlying technology is provided by Sensel, a competitor to Boréas and Cirque. We'll have more on the underly technology in the Surface Laptop Studio soon, as Sensel is expected to be going into more laptops in 2022.

Indeed, we should be seeing many more laptops with haptics next year, making this an exciting trend to follow.

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

10 Comments
  • Give me a real mouse any day.
  • If we do that, you're going to have to clean up after it.
  • LOL good one 😂
  • That's fine when you're at a permanent desk but not practical in all the scenarios that a laptop will be used.
  • I usually only use a laptop on a flat surface not on my knees on a train or the like.
  • Enjoy my Surface Laptop Studio's Trackpad. My XPS 17 had a HUGE trackpad. But given the hinged trackpad, it was a pain to use unlike my MBP 15". The SLS' Trackpad is pretty close to the MBP's and I love it. It took long enough for Windows machines to get this. It is hard to go back to a regular trackpad.
  • Yeah, XPS 17 (and 15) are clear examples of where this tech is absolutely needed. I'm betting we see Dell do just that sooner than later.
  • Talking about touchpad...
    For months, I was looking for something like a Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard BUT with a precision touchpad... why is it sooo difficult to find?
  • Just a comment about how good the MacBook ones are. If the MacBook is on, you'd swear the think is clicking when you press on it. When off, however, it is like it is as solid as the rest of the deck..which it is. It is a great trackpad in any case, but the haptics for clicking are just freaky.
  • Remember when "Foece Touch" was all the rage? Those were intense 15 minutes.