Larry Larsen

This May Be Your Next Mouse

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Today at the User Interface Software and Technology Conference, Microsoft will show five new mouse prototypes that combine normal mousing with multitouch controls. Here is a video that gives you a brief introduction to each of the controls. I'll be meeting with this team when they get back, what questions do you have about these new mice? Which one is your most/least favorite?



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    The Discussion

    • tcdz01

      Any carpal tunnel studies? These all look like they would become painful quickly by the angle the fingers do so much work.

    • amitairos

      When will they be available?

    • ramooon

      OMG the first one is awesome !

    • wisnia

      Pretty cool stuff Smiley I just wonder if your hand wont hurt after using one of these mice for couple of hours...

    • Odi

      The one that has potential, for me, is SideMouse, but I don't want to see the thing. Keep it out of view, watching what I do on my desk surface without being in the way.


      Mouse 2.0 -- no mouse. Kiss.

    • BonnieBerent

      I also like the SideMouse ... it seems like a more intuitive interface than any of the other ones.

    • JohannesH

      The Arty Mouse seems most realistic to me. All the other concepts lack the ability to rest your fingers on something. But it's hard to tell if this is a problem without testing each device for an leghty period of time. Please send me one of each and I'll tell you what I really think. Wink

    • gbrayut

      I liked the FTIR and Capacitive Touch versions the best. The others are cool concepts, but I think they would only be better if you could eliminate the mouse completely (ie for use in cellphones or small devices). Also I would hope that any future mouse would not get rid of some of the very useful features found in current input devices. Scroll wheels are great for fine-grain control of linear values (volume, seeking, scrolling) and can still be used for normal clicking and basic left/right sweeping movements. A jog wheel works great for creating a 3 way button with resistance to prevent accidental triggering. While I could see potential uses for a "multi-touch mouse" I still wouldn't want to give up all of the tried and true functions on my current 11 button mouse Tongue Out

    • Software​Barista

      Please don't forget that some of us in this world are left handed and also use the mouse in our left hand. Most of these look like they will work in either hand, but it looks like the Arty Mouse is for right handers.

    • magicalclick

      IMO, Epic Fail. I vote for Project Natal over everything else. Why need a controller when you can do completely controlless? And Project Natal offers way more flexibility for multi-touch envirnmnet. All the mouse I have seen in the video are all limited to less expressive movements. If really going for multi-touch, no control can do it because you need to support multi-users as well. Place Natal under monitor can easily track both hands on desk. If you want, even eye movement can give control instructions.


    • USArcher

      My question would be, what are the advantages of mice over say a "multitouch" enabled mousepad?


      My favorite of these is the Side mouse...primarily because it can facilitate two hands when needed.  With some tweaking, I could see the view area widened.


      My least favorite is the Cap mouse...surface area seems to be too limited.

    • ryanb

      IMO, these are all examples of truly horrible interfaces.  The sensing technology may be applicable to other uses, but a mouse is not one.  The physical dexterity requirements will eliminate the majority of users right from the start, and leave the others with a lot of pain in short order.  And this demo shows how clumsy it is to use multi-touch for things that are easy without it.  Multi-touch is a solution looking for a problem.  I'm still waiting for the killer app that will convince me of its usefulness beyond marketing demos (with the exception of a very small number of very specific applications).


      I agree that Natal is a much better idea for multi-touch interfaces.


    • BobTec

      Love them

    • arcnet

      My favorite would be a Side Trackball or a trackball on a pressure sensitive surface.

    • staceyw

      Seems the laptop Touchpad (Dells, Gateways, etc) could be extented in a couple ways to eliminate mouse without needing another device.

      1) Make is larger.

      2) Support multitouch.

      3) Put a thin display of desktop under it.  Then it turns into a kind of wacom video tablet.  This would allow App specific touch features for left hand or right hand.  Also would allow pens and other objects (i.e. Brush knobs).  Drawing tool icons come to mind to quickly see and switch strokes and colors with left hand and draw with right (or visa-versa).  Hint, Expression Blend/Design?  Putting touch in the middle is easier (for my arm) then on the right side as it requires more twist of the wrist to flatten hand over on the side.


      Laptops have a lot of wasted area in the front of keyboard anyway.  Just need to figure out a way to prevent mouse moves when you touch it during typing (that is why I turn off touchpad today).  If they can figure out real fingers from a palm touch, that should work.

    • USArcher

      I agree Staceyw, there are more obvious ways to utilize the hand rest space on laptops for multitouch purposes.  For desktops, wacom already offers multitouch capabilities (  But I like what you are suggesting in terms of displaying items on the touch/pen tablet itself.  Kind of a "Super" Windows SideShow.  Another approach would be to use pico projection, and project the desktop and/or application specific items/objects on the surface while Side mice demonstration technology would allow the user to navigate it.  This projection/camera system could be place on the back of a keyboard.  Utilize the space between keyboard and monitor.

    • staceyw

      "For desktops, wacom already offers multitouch capabilities ("


      At least now I know why I could not find an old Bamboo 2 weeks ago, they where gearing up for the new models.  Wish I had known.  Still need a display on these things.  Only way to really use a pen for drawing imo - otherwise it is just a glorified mouse with a pressure feature and sometimes harder to control.  Be interesting to see how this wacom touch will feel in actual usage in something like Design.

    • gleasonomic​on

      These are definitely stress injury inducing mice (although they are indeed very cool). I'd like to see something that goes against the traditional bent wrist paradigm of most mice. How about a vertical style version? 

    • JohannesH

      @SoftwareBarista: That's true but so are my MS Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 i'm sitting with right now. From the looks of it, it might be possible to construct the Arty Mouse in such a way that it will work for both hands.


      One of the reasons I like the Arty Mouse over the other concepts is that it features tactile feedback for clicks. The lack of tactile feedback is one of the main reasons products like the laser projection keyboard never got to be a huge success. Now it might not be just as important for a mouse than for a keyboard but just don't underestimate the sensation a real *click* gives you.

      *Laser Projection Keyboard

      Sure, it looks kinda cool and futuristic, and it does actually work (on perfectly flat surfaces), but in reality it fails because you have to hover your hands 2cm over the keyboard and because you don't have any tactile feedback when you press a key, making it impossible to write anything without looking at the keyboard...

    • LukePuplett

      Yup I'm with Odi; develop a couple of longer distance SideSight sensors under the front of the keyboard or something so the 'mouse' is no longer a feature. I'd be happy to drag my thumb around on the desk as the pointer - thinking about it, its not dissimilar to a large trackpad with Macbook style gestures.


      It's true that we will be up for all kinds of RSI injuries if we have to hold our arms up touching an LCD screen all day.

    • Don Antonio

      My favorite is the side mouse because of the flexiblity using both hands. I agree with Odi and LukePuplett that a more hidden device should be the future instead of trying to reinvent the mouse. Multitouch LCD have only limited use for developers but in environments without mouse and keyboard a good alternative.


      What I think of the devices:

      FTIR: Feels like a custom mouse so I would assume to have generaly the best customer acceptance. What I don't like is that you have to change the hand position when using multitouch.


      Orb Mouse: Nice idea and for the game looks like a great interface because the mouse stays almost at the same position. But: How does it work using normal applications? Comparing the mouses is a bit hard unless they are concepts for different use cases.


      Cap Mouse: Mmm, this is my least favorite. Same problem like the FTIR that you have to change your hand angle. But also is seems a bit small. When trying to use multitouch you don't seem to have much space.


      Side Mouse: My fav. Not only the two hand option but also because you are not so limited in the space used for multitouch. Question: How is the "abrasion" of the fingertips? And could you get rid of the cable? I use the right hand but my computer is on the left. The cable would be simple in the way...


      Arty Mouse: Nice design although I don't think that I would use it. As developer you are constantly switching between keyboard and mouse so I have to "catch" the thumb and forefinger control.



      Also touchpads with multitouch supports sounds very interesting - haven't tried it yet.


      But still I am hoping to have a user interface like in Minority Report which is something between Side Mouse and Arty Mouse...

      Minority Report



      I agree that the normal user would like to have a real click feedback which I personally wouldn't miss. Other examples that supports your theory: Shaver or vacuum cleaner could be much more quiet but the customer "thinks" that it doesn't do its job...

    • jl235

      I don't like side mouse. My desk has waaaaay more friction then a touchpad, so I can imgine it being quite uncomfortable. I presume I'd also be using it as a mouse 90% of the time, and I reackon I'd find it less comfortable to push a mouse around directly underneath my wrist then with a standard mouse.


      I love OrbMouse because of how powerful it looks. The amount of control it offers seems way more then the others.

    • ivan_

      I think side mouse is good, but has a limited use. You have to have a good surface for side mouse; your fingers will go crazy if you scrub them over rough carpet for an hour.

    • aL_

      all of them are really interesting imo Smiley what i'd like the most would be the first one, but with actual mouse buttons as well. i normaly rest my finders on the buttons, keeping them elevated would be a major pain..


      also the side view mouse would be cool to combine with all of the others, just have it passivly on your desk to perform larger two handed gestures..


      whats really awsome is the ability to also have a natal looking at you for even larger 3d gestures, like complex 6-axsis maniplulation and individual finger tracking (kuda has even said that will be possible at desktop ranges)


      i dont think you have to choose a single tech,  i want the first one with buttons and the sideview like under my monitor looking at the desk and natal looking at me,  all connected to one system Wink


      really awsome techs, cant wait to see more Smiley

    • aL_

      on a side note, alot of people seem to be concerned about finger friction with the side mouse. simple, just use a large mousepad Smiley

    • clanwars0

      I love the side mouse.  I am thinking about getting that some day.

    • clanwars0

      I agree.  The side mouse is awsome.

    • clanwars0

      Yeah that's true.

    • Don Antonio

      I was actually thinking of this too but I sounds like contradicting the point of a new mouse. Having only a restricted space for my new mouse would keep me limited and I would not have any benefit . You see no mousepads at all for all different mouses, AND even no carpet Wink  which leaves me with two other questions to the design team:

      - Could reflecting surfaces like glas or metal confuse the sensor

      - I rest my fingers like aL_ on the mouse. What happens when I - while waiting for a program - would start to do a tremolo (tipping with the ring, middle and forefinger)?



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