Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Current Project: Multi-touch on my laptop touch-pad...

I'm trying to hack a set of neutered touch-pad drivers to support multi-touch again. If you're interested, read past the break...

Okay, I have a little story to tell you. It began in April of 2009, and not with me.

The media got a hold of information that the touch-pad manufacturer ELAN was suing Apple for infringements upon its capacitive touch-pad technology. It was all over the tech blogs, and I probably wasn't paying attention at the time.

At that time, ASUS had released its EEE PC netbook with a multi-touch ELAN capacitive touchpad. This was a big deal, because on a netbook, features like pinch-to-zoom can be important. ELAN had just released in February updated drivers for its touch-pads that included all sorts of multi-touch support. It was likely after they released these drivers that they realized that Apple was infringing upon their patents and made with the lawsuit.

A few months later, updated drivers were released for the EEE PC, and suddenly, almost all of the multi-touch features were gone. Everything but 2-finger scrolling and multi-finger tap keyboard shortcuts (like tapping with 3 fingers twice to open the Start Menu, for example) were gone. Either ELAN lost the lawsuit (which I doubt, the media would have gone nuts, and 2 months is way too quick for our judicial system to have handled it), or more likely, they settled with Apple out of court, and agreed to not include the multi-touch gestures in their software (probably for a large sum of money).

How does this involve me? Well, last November I picked up an ASUS ultraportable for $450. It's got a dual-core Intel 2.1 GHz processor, 4 GB of RAM, 320 GB HDD, Win 7 Home Premium, and an ELAN capacitive multi-touch touch-pad. One day, when I was updating all my drivers, I visited the ELAN website to download the latest drivers. There, I found this page:

It demos all the multi-touch features that the drivers support. The caveat is that you can no longer download the drivers directly from ELAN, (broken links abound across the internet to a download page on ELAN's website that no longer exists) and that you must download the drivers from your laptop manufacturer. None of those drivers, anywhere, have multi-touch gestures.

And this makes me mad. I can't use multi-touch gestures on my laptop touch-pad because someone paid off someone else to lock them away from me in the hopes that it'll convince me to buy a MacBook. Shame on you, Apple.

So I'm trying to hack the drivers. I'm pretty sure they still include multi-touch functions, just locked. I modified the .inf file for the original EEE PC Win XP driver to get the setup to run under Win 7 on "unsupported" hardware, but I can't get the software to run properly; I'm guessing it's an x87 vs x64 issue, but I'm not sure. Haven't done any driver hacking before, and the internets is sadly lacking in good information.

Pretty sure it'll be a registry entry that I need to put in to enable the functions, but everything I've tried so far don't work. The EEE PC driver registry keys don't work; the .inf files are pretty different.

I'll continue to work on it, but if anyone knows a good resource for driver hacking, please let me know!


  1. well well how is far your research? :))

  2. Have you had any luck with this at all? I've scoured the web and this blog and your post on notebookreview are the only mentions of it I find. I really can't believe there's no interest.

  3. Unfortunately this is something I moved to the backburner. I might try tinkering around with it again at some point, but I've simply had no luck. :(

  4. This is tereble I want the scloll to work the opisite way like it dos on tuch screen but it is not adjustable anywhere in the settings. And than ofcource whould the multy finger controle help alot.