Awesome Stuff: Rethinking The Mouse (Finally!)

from the crowdfunding-picks dept

So folks seemed to enjoy last week’s crowdfunding picks post, and the Saturday morning time slot seemed to work, so we’ll stick with it. Still not sure on a name, but someone suggested “awesome stuff,” and it’s hard to argue with that. I reserve the right to change it at some point, but at least this week, we’re going with Awesome Stuff. And, this week we’re also going to test out a “theme.” These are three crowdfunding projects that all revolve around reinventing the mouse. It’s been almost 45 years since the humble computer mouse was first demonstrated by Doug Engelbart, in a presentation that I rewatch every so often. It’s quite incredible when you realize just how much of the future he’s showing off. The clip below should start right at the point where he discusses the mouse (if not, it’s right around 30 minutes, 45 seconds):

The humble mouse really hasn’t changed that much in all those years, though we’re starting to see the rise of so-called “smart mouses” (sometimes they don’t seem so smart). Here are three crowdfunding projects that struck me as interesting, in that they really attempt to update the mouse in unique ways.

  • First up, we have the EGO! smartmouse, which does a whole variety of things to try to take the concept of a computer mouse further. Beyond regular mousing, and being able to work in 3 dimensions, rather than just 2 (yes, you can lift it up and gesture with it in the air), it also can easily authenticate and switch to different computers on the fly, even bringing files along with it. On top of that it can act as a remote control or a gaming controller. Some of these features we’ve seen elsewhere, but pulling them all together in one device seems pretty impressive.

  • Why does a mouse need to always sit next to your keyboard? What if it was wrapped around your finger? That’s the premise behind the Mycestro. As someone who spends a lot of time moving my right hand between the keyboard and the mouse, there’s something quite appealing about being able to keep my hands in one position and still be able to use the mouse. You can see the details in the video below. Like the EGO! mouse above, this is also a 3D mouse, recognizing gestures to move the mouse, but it also lets you click and scroll with your thumb. It’s difficult to describe without seeing it in action, so check it out.

  • Finally, we have another Kickstarter project that ended yesterday without hitting its goal. I debated if we should still include it, but it definitely seems to fit with the theme. It’s the Mauz device that clips onto an iPhone to turn the iPhone itself into a mouse. Like both of the above examples, it enables 3D gestures, but also has a lot of flexibility in terms of features that can be used on the screen. I’m somewhat surprised that it failed to reach its goal. This seems like the kind of Kickstarter project that would take off.

And there you go. It appears that the mouse is finally the center of some significant innovation. Of course, that might be happening just as all of our screens are becoming touchscreens, and the entire concept of the mouse becomes less relevant.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Rethinking The Mouse (Finally!)”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Unanimous Cow Herd (profile) says:

Finger Mouse

The finger mouse was done in the 1990s and was a terrible flop. I had one and it was the worst $30 I ever spent on a peripheral. Hope the new one is better but looks to be built around the same ideas as the old. Wonder if they worked out the “nose scratch” problem. Anywho, appreciated the film relic. Thanks for posting.

PopeRatzo (profile) says:

not surprising that Mauz failed

I don’t understand why the author was surprised that the Mauz device, which turns your iPhone into a mouse didn’t catch on.

It sounds like a terrible idea. The mouse is supposed to be an always on, always available device. Something that sits there waiting for input. Nobody wants to have to turn the Mauz on every time they want to use the computer, and if it was always on, the battery life would be terrible.

Plus, what if you get a phone call? Now you have to decide whether you want your phone to be a phone or a mouse. How often do you need to access something on the computer while you’re on the phone? If you’re like most people, I would say that’s pretty common.

Further, people want a mouse to be inexpensive. Using something that costs hundreds of dollars as a pointer is as pointless as using the iPhone as a coaster for your can of pop.

The other devices look promising, however.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: not surprising that Mauz failed

My iphone already can act as a mouse – with just software – it’s been around for years. And all your criticism of the idea is totally justified.

The best thing for the mouse was what we used to call the “doggie dick” in the middle of an IBM laptop. You can keep your hands in position and click with your thumbs. It never caught on because you could never point with precision. And it looked like a doggie dick.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ugh big deal. It’s the same old mouse.. combined with the nintendo wii functionality. This is a bad idea. The only reason people “lift” their remotes, is because you have to point them at the TV for them to work. If that’s not necessary, there is no reason to have to lift the pointing device up, in otherwords, any old mouse will do.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

There’ve been exactly three useful innovations as far as the mouse is concerned since it was invented.

  • Adding a second button.
  • Adding a third button.
  • Making the third button also a scroll wheel.

Everything else is either changing how it plugs into the computer, cosmetic, or extra features that approximately five people in the world find useful.

I’m not saying that it can never be improved upon. It’s going to damned near take divine inspiration though because the humble scroll mouse is very close to perfect for its job.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think your list is severely flawed, as it overlooks several other key improvements.

Want to keep it a list of three? Okay:

1) Adding more (possibly programmable) buttons, one of which is a scroll wheel
2) Getting rid of the ball and going optical
3) Making them wireless

And I’m sure I’m overlooking some other useful innovations as well.

Miff (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I am in no way a fan of wireless mice. Last mouse I had required it’s batteries changed every two weeks or so (and these were brand name batteries) and every time you did, you had to “re-syncronize” it with the PC by pushing the button on the mouse then on the base. Or is it pushing the button on the base, then on the mouse? Or is it holding the base while pushing the mouse? Or holding the mouse while pushing the base?

It’s things like this that led me back to wired PS/2 mice. I eventually switched to USB when computer manufacturer started putting a decent amount of usb ports on their systems.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

wow. I have 2 wireless mice. I use one at work and and another slightly newer model at home. My Battery lifetime on both sets is at least 3 months. the receivers for them are about the size of my thumbnail and i have never had to sync them even once.

When was the last time you took the plunge and tried a wireless mouse?

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

  1. agree about tailless mice; had one not 2 feet direct-line-of-sight from the ‘receiver’ thingie, and it still worked like crap… the lag was unendurable…
  2. spousal unit loves them, BUT, she is constantly scavenging batteries from all the remotes in the house, ’cause she is constantly running out of juice in them… battery eaters..
  3. BEST innovation of the mouse has been the scroll wheel; absolutely great for zooming in/out when using CAD/graphics progs…
    makes surfing (most) too-tiny websites easy peasy japanesy…

    oh, trackpads suck… i think my kirlian fields make them bonkers or something, but i can’t get the damn things to stop jumping all over the place… trackballs suck, too…

    damn kids: a brick with metal conduit back to the mainframe is all anyone needs…

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Okay, I’ll grant you that not having to take the mouse apart to clean it was a big improvement.

Wireless though? Unless you have a specific need for it, all you get is a slightly less responsive mouse that now needs batteries. I’ll even be nice and count the “oooh, shiny and new! must have!” crowd under specific need.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I am not a ‘fan’ of wireless mice myself, but I don’t take this data point and extrapolate that nobody really needs it.

Batteries. Hm. I did own a few wireless mice (otherwise, I couldn’t comment on them and hadn’t found out that I don’t really need them), but none of them needed ‘common’ replaceble batteries. They used Li-Ion accumulators, lasted days on a single charge (my pc is on almost 24/7 and being actively used for the vast majority of my spare time) and charged in a perceived flash at the least, or overnight at the most. It wasn’t all that bad.

Whether I really need it or not, not being tangled up in a mess of cables/wires is what I would call a ‘useful innovation’.

I also never had to re-sync when I put them on/took them off the charging dock.

Pseudonym (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Getting tangled up in your mouse cable is fairly common in the scenario where the mouse is regularly unplugged and replugged, and especially if the cable is regularly wound and unwound. This is what happens on most portable machines, especially if you port it a lot.

So yes, I prefer a wired mouse on a desktop machine, but I far prefer a wireless on a laptop/notebook/whatever.

dennis deems (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The computer is against the wall next to the TV. I am on the couch 10 feet away. Wireless is a massive improvement on the 8 foot USB extension I used to use.

Moreover you clearly never used the old-style square-cornered, flat mouse. Those things made the hand so sore. Even the gently rounded one that came with my Power Mac was painful. It is impossible to overstate how much the current ergonomically designed mouse is an improvement over those early designs.

Tom Teshima (profile) says:

Alternative Mice?

I’ve been interested in alternatives to the traditional mouse for decades. The big problem I’ve had is nothing produced so far has the precision and speed of a traditional mouse setup. The newest trackpads (esp apple’s) come close, but they just are cumbersome to use for mouse intensive work. Same thing for the motion based mice. They just aren’t as efficient. For casual use, touchscreens and trackpads are useful, but for any serious, detailed work, you need a mouse.

Anonymous Coward says:

The touchscreen works better for laptops and flip screens that you lay down or for drawing and for old people that don’t know how to use a mouse, but for a desktop computer or for regular use a regular mouse works great. My hand would get tired if I had to lift it up for prolonged periods of time and wave it around a large area.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’ll give it a shot. This is not patentable.

Maybe a pointer on the floor that you can move with your feet to accompany the mouse. It won’t replace the mouse but maybe it can supplement it. You can move it around with your feet, you can separately set the sensitivity, and you can put more pressure down to click on it. That way you don’t always have to move your hand from the keyboard to the mouse and back every time you want to click something. It should still allow the foot to rest on it, you shouldn’t have to life your foot, just add a tap or a little extra weight to click it down, and it should have like a wheel or something (a slider or maybe a foot pad, kinda like a laptop pad) so that it’s easy to roll but you, of course, have the option of taking your foot off of it and maybe setting the click sensitivity if needed.

Of course, when you really need mouse intensive work, the mouse should still be there next to the keyboard. But if I want to do something simple I can use my foot pad.

I dunno if something like that could provide enough high speed accuracy and testing would need to be done to determine the extent that your foot might be tired. Don’t think it would really work that well but I think, while on the computer, what’s missing is input from your feet so if some sort of foot input can be added, maybe another mouse button even or some sort of directional input (too many buttons on the regular mouse tends to clutter it and make it so that you either keep accidentally clicking it or it makes it harder to click the right button).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Or maybe a keyboard that you can move back and forth to move the pointer around and press a button on the keyboard (or press the keyboard down?) to click. There should also maybe be another button to conveniently enable and disable the feature.

Whatever is used needs to focus its attention on removing the inconvenience of having to lift your hand up and move it back and forth from the mouse to the keyboard every time you want to transition.

NattyFido (profile) says:

My wireless mouse has a ‘Mouseport’ that it sits on to recharge plus an extra two buttons (five in total including the scoll wheel). It’s not a gaming mouse, but the extra buttons are useful if the game recognizes them. I mainly use them as ‘back’ and ‘forward’ in my browser and in file folders. And because it’s optical I use it on my leg (denim is best) because my desk is usually too cluttered, it also stops my arm from aching in prolonged use.
I’d say it’s perfect, why fix what ain’t broken?

It’s that old, the silver paint has worn off where my fingers usually sit and it looks like it’s sticking two fingers up at me!

ECA (profile) says:

I want a new trackball

I wish for 2 things..

1. MS to make a NEW common driver for mouse/trackball. Im tired of OVERLAYS that arnt compressed.

2. a NEW trackball. NONE of the Makers have improved on what was made 10 years ago.. They have gone WILD on the mouse, and forgotten the trackball.

NOW if they would replace the BALL with a glide point, or track pad that could do alot. Then add a few buttons on the side to change its use and configuration..
1. 5×5 keypad
2. 10 key input
3. quick keys
4. scroll

I know TONS of people that would buy it..

Anonymous Coward says:

I am using a Logitech Anywhere MX wireless mouse, it is great the USB dongle is thumbnail size, range is great and it uses 2 AA batteries that even though I almost never remember to turn it off, (with the large easy switch underneath) battery life is measured in months.

I just keep a pack of 4 AA batteries spare, but I have not had to open that pack yet. It also have extra and fully programmable buttons and a great wheel, that can be switched between ‘clicking’ and ‘smooth’ spin. Best mouse I have ever owned. It also warns you when the batteries get low WELL before changing them is required (days). Giving you plenty of time to buy a new set before it stops working.

Anonymous Coward says:

Cordless or Nothing...

I’ve used wireless mice for years.
I have one RF trackball and a bluetooth opitcal that I use for my desktop. They both work excellent.(both Logitech)
The trouble with the RF ones is the base signal is very directional. Once you find where the signal is, they work well, with no special software. Battery use is via rechargeable double A’s,(2 for the RF,1 for the Bluetooth) about once a month.
The bluetooth works really great and I use it while on the sofa.
As to moving your iphone in the air, theres a free app for that called Air Mouse.It works great over Wifi.

Once you get some really good cordless action going, you’ll never go back!

Ninja (profile) says:

I’d go with some sort of palm recognition pad. I”m not sure how to male it operational but imagine for a second a mouse pad that can read your hand movements. You comfortably lay your hand on it and use one finger to scroll (which you can choose) and all your fingers to click/scroll (via pressure or by lifting your finger if you want). So considering your thumb is finger number one you could set 2 to scroll both vertically and horizontally (I am imagining an FPS game with this might be awesome) then 3 can increase/decrease volume (vertical) and scroll ahead or backwards (video) and so on. Some games could benefit greatly from the added functions plus you can use it to handwrite, use gestures and so on.

I’d back such project.

crashsuit (profile) says:

My main takeaway from the comments is that people who don’t like wireless mice really, REALLY don’t like wireless mice, almost as if they’ve been personally offended or insulted somehow.

I understand your differing preferences, but the arguments people are using against them went out the window years ago, for the most part.

I have a bluetooth mouse that never needs re-syncing, lasts for months on 2 rechargeable AAA batteries, works over a great distance, has a high degree of accuracy, works well for gaming, and costs under $20. Going wireless also saves me quite a bit of time and hassle, as I never have to plug or unplug it, nor wind or unwind a cable.

My recommendation is that if you’re ever willing to give wireless mice another shot, and buy one from a reputable brand such as Lenovo, Microsoft, or Logitech, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

rashid (user link) says:

Best wireless mouse

My vote is: the mouse that is the most popular in amazon which is : Logitech M510 , The reason I?m choosing this one because me my self I own one of these great mice, they are fantastic, have low energy consuming , I already made a list of the best wireless mouse,please check it out here, and its very suitable for gaming, and thats makes the best, one last thing its price very good and affordable among other very expensive mice.

M says:

On great idea?

In the tablets there is the pen/sylus.
In the computers and laptops there are mouses and touchpad.
Both in the last can give physical problems.
Why not an “simple ideia”::: transport what you have in the new mouses (with optical, lasers and etc) into an efficient pen/stylus, changing the form of the mouse into an pen form???
Everythink nowdays is small.
Does anybody can produce an efficient product like that?
1-pen/stylus (form) with the technology of the mouse, because when you use an pen/stylus the hand is more neutral.
2-pen/stylus (form) with the technology of the mouse with any type of touchpad, if it is not possible the 1.
If someone can produce this product I think it will win a lot of money. So i give this ideai for free to any one in the world.
Possible there is something like that. (or) (?)
The life will be much more easy and free of pain for me and for everybody with and whithout pain.
Sorry my ignorance if there is no technology for that. (or) !!!
Sorry for my incongruences and writing style.
They will put the man on the Moon or Marte?!
I repeat again: using an pen/stylus the hand is more neutral.

Many Thanks

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Monitor Everything (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Cool Components (1)
12:42 Tech Companies Ask European Commission Not To Wreck The Internet -- And You Can Too (4)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Play & Listen (1)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Beyond Chiptunes (12)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Updated Classics (3)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Celebrating Cities (1)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Crafts Of All Kinds (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: One Great Knob (13)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Simple Geeky Toys (2)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Gadgets For The New Year (18)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Post-Holiday Grab Bag (0)
13:34 How Private-Sector Innovation Can Help Those Most In Need (21)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Towards The Future Of Drones (17)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Artisanal Handheld Games (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A New Approach To Smartphone VR (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Let's Bore The Censors (37)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Open Source For Your Brain (2)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Final Piece Of The VR Puzzle? (6)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Internet... Who Needs It? (15)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Light Non-Switch (18)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: 3D Printing And Way, Way More (7)
13:00 Techdirt Reading List: Learning By Doing (5)
12:43 The Stagnation Of eBooks Due To Closed Platforms And DRM (89)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Modular Phone For Makers (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Everything On One Display (4)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Everything Is Still A Remix (13)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Great Desk Toy, Or Greatest Desk Toy? (6)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Sleep Hacking (12)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Voice-Operated Household Assistant (19)
More arrow