Microsoft unveils the multi-touch mouse

6 Oct 2009
Multi-touch mouse

Prototype mice deliver multi-touch controls without an expensive touchscreen

A Microsoft Research project is bringing multi-touch technology to the mouse.

The company's Applied Sciences Group has produced a series of prototype devices that deliver multi-touch controls, without having to invest in a touchscreen PC.

The five different mice use a variety of technologies to detect finger movement, including infrared cameras, a capacitive sensing grid and optical sensors.

The Arty Mouse, for example, places an optical sensor underneath the thumb and the forefinger, allowing the PC to detect pinching movements for zooming in on photos.

The Side Mouse, on the other hand (pun absolutely intended), is a small device that rests entirely beneath the palm, allowing the fingers to tap on the desk. IR cameras and a laser detect the movement of the fingers, creating "a multi-touch area that is not restricted to the physical surface of the device."

The team claim the devices could help multi-touch make the breathrough into everyday desktop computing. "With the emergence of multi-touch, we now have the opportunity to manipulate digital content with increased dexterity," the team writes in a paper.

"But whilst multi-touch has been incorporated into many different form-factors – from tabletop to mobile phone – it has yet to find a place on our desktops. This may seem surprising, particularly given that for many computing tasks the desktop setting still dominates."

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