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Microsoft demos multi-touch enabled mice concepts

updated 01:30 pm EDT, Mon October 5, 2009

Devices simulate buttons, gestures

Microsoft is exploring the concept of multi-touch mice, a new research paper reveals. The paper is being presented today as part of the User Interface Software and Technology conference, and identifies five different prototypes, each based on different sensor technologies. The devices also rely on different ergonomics, and in some cases enable different functions.

Seen in a demonstration video, the FTIR (Frustrated Total Internal Reflection) mouse uses a camera to detect one or more fingers placed on a translucent surface. Users can tap one or more fingers to click, or else perform various swiping gestures, such as pinching or rotating to manipulate on-screen objects. The Orb Mouse is similar, but uses an internal camera aimed at a rounded sphere. Different sections of the sphere can be assigned to different functions, for instance jumping in a first-person shooter.

The Cap Mouse uses a set of capacitive electrodes on the surface of a more conventionally-styled device. Apple is believed to be using similar technology for a new Mighty Mouse, which could ship before the end of 2009.

The Side Mouse is based on proximity sensors, and records gestures occurring in front, rather than ones made through direct physical contact. This allows users to perform gestures with two hands, and/or without picking up a mouse at all. Microsoft's last concept, the Arty Mouse, employs three optical sensors, two of which are mounted on extendable arms.

It is not known when or if any of the prototypes will be transformed into production models.






By Electronista Staff
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  1. eddd

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2001



    What MS does best: mice. That seems to be enough of a challenge for their hardware and software designers.

  1. brainiac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2003


    From the makers of...

    the Control-Alt-Delete keystroke.

  1. MeandmyMac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2008


    I like the concept...

    I like the concept but I would really like a MacBook Pro glass rectangle type of mouse where the whole unit can click and maybe give it a few external, physical buttons and let the user's finger move the cursor around or respond to various gestures. I think that would be great. At least no handful of a hard plastic blob that never fully quite cuts it...

  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: Jan 2008



    How every time a hot rumor emerges about an Apple product, Microsoft rolls out a full PR on a "concept" product they have that matches Apple's.

  1. JulesLt

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2005


    The Concept

    Agreed on the last comment - suspiciously close timing - and it looks like MS are slipping back to their old ways (demo rather than ship). You'd have thought they'd learnt from Windows 7 (keep quiet on the early hype, deliver a good product, and let happy customers sell it for you).

    I'm puzzled by the continual focus on camera technology - as with Surface.

    To be honest, I think right now I'd go for a large multi-touch trackpad.

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