Microsoft Brings Multi-touch To The Mouse

October 7, 2009

2 Min Read
Microsoft Brings Multi-touch To The Mouse

Want a look at how Microsoft envisions what it dubs Mouse 2.0? A Microsoft hardware research team recently released a paper and video showcasing five different multi-touch mouse implementations that explore different touch sensing strategies, including those optimized for 3-D interaction.

The prototypes, still in the early concept stage, attempt to enrich the standard, desktop mouse and pointer-based desktop interactions with touch and gestures picking up on the multi-touch capabilities ushered in by Windows 7. The FTIR (Frustrated Total Internal Reflection) prototype, as Microsoft researchers explain it, is “based on a common technique for enabling multi-touch input on interactive surfaces.” The technique leverages a sheet of acrylic and the principle of FTIR to illuminate a user’s fingers and it employs an infrared camera to track the different points of touch. The Orb Mouse, “equipped with an internal camera and source of diffuse infrared light,” tracks the user’s hand across the “hemispherical surface,” and with its larger sensing interaction area, it lends itself to gamers, who need the whole hand to be engaged, the Microsoft paper says.

The Cap Mouse design is novel in that the device includes a true multi-touch sensor, which lets it simultaneously track the locations of all of the user’s fingers on the surface of the mouse. The Side Mouse, designed to rest under the user’s palm, senses when the fingers touch the table surface directly-not the mouse. Microsoft researchers say this approach lets the input space be larger than the physical bounds of the input device.

It’s the last mouse prototype, the Arty Mouse, that has potential to change the way users do 3-D manipulation. Pushing the Side Mouse concept a bit further, this prototype has the palm rest on the base of the device while two extended “arms can freely and independently move on the table by the thumb and index finger.” Researchers say the multi-touch mouse prototypes open up additional designs of freedom (DOFs) that are more intuitive for 3-D manipulations. They have demonstrated the use of the Arty Mouse with the SolidWorks CAD tool, leveraging the additional articulated sensors for added 2DOF,  allowing both cursor control and 3-D camera manipulation.

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