Microsoft is making significant strides in creating inclusive accessories and features for their mainstream products. During their recent New York event, the company unveiled an innovative feature called Adaptive Touch, which enhances the functionality of the “precision haptic trackpad” on the Surface Laptop Studio 2. Microsoft claims that this feature makes it the most inclusive touchpad on any laptop, and after experiencing it firsthand, it’s easy to see why.
To gain a deeper understanding of Adaptive Touch, I had the opportunity to speak with Solomon Romney, Microsoft’s accessibility program manager. Romney was born without fingers on his left hand, which makes it challenging for him to use standard touchpads on most laptops. However, Adaptive Touch allows him to effortlessly navigate the trackpad without the cursor jumping around the screen.
It’s important to note that the adaptive touch feature currently requires a haptic trackpad, limiting its availability to the Surface Laptop Studio 2. To activate Adaptive Touch, users need to access the computer’s touchpad settings and enable the feature. However, a prompt appears warning users that multitouch gestures like pinch to zoom will not be supported.
The reason for this limitation is that Adaptive Touch relies on analyzing multiple points of contact on the trackpad and determining if they are moving in the same general direction. This information helps the system understand where to move the mouse cursor. Interestingly, Microsoft has repurposed the technology used for palm rejection to develop Adaptive Touch.
Despite its potential, Microsoft has noticeably overlooked this feature in their marketing materials for the Surface Laptop Studio 2. Searching for terms like “Microsoft inclusive trackpad” or “Surface Laptop Studio 2 accessibility touchpad” yields unrelated results. Clearly, there is still much to learn about how Adaptive Touch functions and what its limitations are. Nevertheless, the fact that Microsoft continues to prioritize inclusivity in their designs is highly encouraging, and the possibilities for future advancements are exciting to contemplate.
In conclusion, Microsoft’s commitment to building inclusive accessories and features is evident in their development of Adaptive Touch for the Surface Laptop Studio 2. This unique feature, which allows individuals with limitations in hand dexterity to navigate the trackpad effortlessly, showcases Microsoft’s dedication to inclusivity. While the feature’s current availability is limited, it’s a significant step towards creating more accessible technology. Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to design products for individuals with diverse needs is commendable, and it will be fascinating to see what other inclusive innovations they have in store.