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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Wally (profile), Mar 9th, 2013 @ 9:34am

    I blame Mattel and Nintendo for this the failed project...

    I actually think that while the merit of this new type of mouse, in general, is a great idea...I'm not sure it will catch on until an entire set of generations forget about Mattel's Nintendo Power Glove.


    ;-)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 10:01am

    those look retarded

    the only problem with a mouse is the learning curve. these products don't attempt to solve that, they only seem to have even higher learning curves with no actual improvement.

    toys for geeks that like toys. not evolutions in productivity.

     

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    Unanimous Cow Herd (profile), Mar 9th, 2013 @ 10:17am

    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.

     

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    G Thompson (profile), Mar 9th, 2013 @ 10:35am

    AHA! Now I know where I have been going wrong.

    I've been trying to invent a better mouseTRAP!

    ;(

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 10:37am

    Re: Finger Mouse

    Yes, after spending countless millions of dollars on research and field testing, they devised the foolproof method of scratching your nose WITH YOUR OTHER HAND.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 10:40am

    Of the three products shown, only the Mouz piqued my interest, and i don't even have a smartphone. But maybe the $150,000 was a bit high.

    But if that was truly what he would've needed to kick it off...

     

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    PopeRatzo (profile), Mar 9th, 2013 @ 11:01am

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 11:43am

    I could see the features they advertise with the EGO mouse might be useful. However, it seems they've decided to throw out every advance in mouse ergonomics from the last 2 decades. :(

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 11:53am

    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.

     

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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Mar 9th, 2013 @ 12:20pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 1:00pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    Re:

    While I realize 'making them wireless' is coverered under 'changing how it plugs into the computer', I'm willing to bet that there are way more than 5 people that find this useful.

     

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    Tom Teshima, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 4:03pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 4:27pm

    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).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 4:28pm

    Re: Re:

    What might be useful on the floor is something that lets you rest the heel of your foot on the floor and, with the ball of your foot, direct something left and right. We just need to figure out a practical application for that on the screen. (again, not patentable).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 4:42pm

    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.

     

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    Pitabred (profile), Mar 9th, 2013 @ 5:42pm

    Re: Re:

     

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    monkyyy, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 6:07pm

    if a physical interface doesnt help gaming in someway its a pointless gimik and wont replace anything; if u can replace the mouse for high acceratcy or the keybroad for raw input in gaming; u simply wont be bringing anything that people who still use windows xp will want

     

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  20.  
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    Miff (profile), Mar 9th, 2013 @ 6:27pm

    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.

     

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  21.  
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    Wolfy, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 7:38pm

    I think the kinnect (sp?) is on the right track. No mouse... just a machine that can sense and correctly interpret what your hand(s) is/are doing... just a wave of the fingers controls your electronics. Until we get smarter electronics.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 8:50pm

    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?

     

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  23.  
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    NattyFido (profile), Mar 9th, 2013 @ 10:19pm

    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!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2013 @ 10:22pm

    Heh I rather use a Emotive headset because they keep getting better and better. Thought based input is the future.

    They'd probably become trillionaires overnight if they put it for sale on Adam & Eve rofl.

     

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  25.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Mar 9th, 2013 @ 11:38pm

    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.

     

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  26.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Mar 9th, 2013 @ 11:52pm

    Re:

    It's slow. It's cumbersome. It's not even on the same order of magnitude of precision as a mouse. It can't even begin to compare with the keyboard in range of input.

    It's a gimmick that may prove useful in some limited ways but that's all.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 5:04am

    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.

     

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  28.  
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    Old Fool (profile), Mar 10th, 2013 @ 5:21am

    Wireless?

    I hate using a wireless mouse. I spent a fortune on a wireless RAT so I could sit on my easy chair and watch Netflix, not too bad for that but utterly shit for gaming.
    Have a G9 now - with wires!

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 5:38am

    The mouse has been around that long? Funny I didn't get one with my Commodore VIC-20.

     

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  30.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Mar 10th, 2013 @ 6:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Unless you've somehow been literally getting tangled up in your mouse cable (how would you even manage that?) you're coming at it from a strictly aesthetic standpoint. Aesthetics can be nifty but they are by definition not useful.

     

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  31.  
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    shawnhcorey (profile), Mar 10th, 2013 @ 7:00am

    Mouse-free for Years

    I've replaced my mouse with a trackball years ago, an older version of this one: http://www.logitech.com/en-ca/product/trackman-marble?crid=8

     

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  32.  
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    Mason Wheeler, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 7:59am

    Re:

    Actually... have a look at the demo video. The original mouse did have three buttons. Apple took a huge step backwards when they popularized the mouse as an input device by throwing two of them away, and it took almost a decade and a half to get something that improved on the 1968 model.

     

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    spiner, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 9:42am

    now that we are entering a style of life were no one will use theyre arms of fingers to tap on keabord (ex: google glasses) i dont see the point of making new mouse.I even think the mouse will disapear in a couple of years :)

     

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  34.  
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    shawnhcorey (profile), Mar 10th, 2013 @ 9:52am

    Re: no keyboard

    There will always be a need for a keyboard for data entry. But, you're right, most people won't need one.

     

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  35.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Mar 10th, 2013 @ 11:06am

    Re:

    The Xerox Star was the first personal computer released with a mouse in 81. The Apple Lisa came along in 82, I think, as the second one to include a mouse. The VIC-20 hit the shelves in 80.

     

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    Igor, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 11:46am

    Looks cheap,and not so ergonomic.
    As someone who likes a good mouse and dont mind paying whatever price i can tell you no way in hell i would buy this mouse.

     

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  37.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 10th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Mouse-free for Years

    I've been in the trackball camp since the late '80s. It's almost the perfect pointing device for me.

     

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  38.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Mar 10th, 2013 @ 2:10pm

    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
    eof

     

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  39.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Mar 10th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    heh, it ate my "" preface to "makes surfing..."

    damn embedded code crap...
    grrrrr

     

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    art guerrilla (profile), Mar 10th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    heh, it fucking ate it again...
    without brackets:
    "control-scroll wheel"

    grrrr

     

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  41.  
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    ECA (profile), Mar 10th, 2013 @ 2:35pm

    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. 5x5 keypad
    2. 10 key input
    3. quick keys
    4. scroll
    ...
    I know TONS of people that would buy it..
    PS..I HATE GESTURES..

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 4:37pm

    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.

     

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    Pseudonym, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

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    Pseudonym, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Wireless?

    In general, mice are utterly shit for gaming. At least, they are compared to a typical console controller.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 5:11pm

    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!

     

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    Pseudonym, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 5:11pm

    Re:

    Commodore didn't get an official mouse until 1986. It was C64 and up.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 6:48pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 2:09am

    Re:

    Mine has 17 buttons are you living in a cave?

     

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  49.  
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    Omek Interactive, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 3:29am

    Using Gesture to control your screen

    While we don't believe that your finger is an effective mouse, at Omek we do think that a well-designed application can incorporate hands and fingers to control your screen. We touched on this topic in our latest blog post: http://www.omekinteractive.com/blog/augmented-reality-as-feedback/

     

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 4:56am

    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.

     

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  51.  
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    dennis deems (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    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.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: no keyboard

    I'm not so sure. The current new crop of IO methods are all pretty specialized and only good for niche applications. I don't see the need for mice (or keyboards) going away any time soon.

     

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    Alter8, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:18am

    What about Leap Motion?

    I didn't bite on either one of these because I have a Leap motion device on pre-order. I like the idea of using hand gestures without attaching anything to your finger.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    icon
    crashsuit (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    james, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 1:01pm

    house

    I just visited http://www.alexander-anderson.com and found some interesting houses and found the home i was looking for all along! They Have so much variety!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    kusum kumari, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 1:58am

    sell buy

    Buy / Sell all items at world's largest 2nd Hand shop bechdaal.com with 100% delivery guarantee.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    rashid, Nov 10th, 2013 @ 6:09am

    Best wireless mouse

    My vote is: the mouse that is the most popular in amazon which is : Logitech M510 , The reason Iím 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 http://www.bestwirelessmousezone.com, 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.
    Thanks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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