Isn't it about time our trusty mouse gets a facelift? Microsoft Research seems to think so, and has developed five peculiar prototypes deemed as "Mouse 2.0." Of course, the prototype designs aren't final, and they rather look like dirty old droids pulled out of the Sandcrawler trunk by local Jawas (that's a Star Wars: ANH reference). But the company's intentions are clear: it's moving into multi-touch computing land using various touch sensing techniques, form factors, and "interactive affordances."
The first mouse, dubbed as Frustrated Total Internal Reflection (FTIR), uses a curved sheet of acrylic "edge-lit" with infrared light. The light scatters at the touch of a finger, and is recorded by an IR camera. The Orb Mouse, on the other hand, looks a bit more "mousy," facilitating multi-touch sensing on its hemispherical surface. This mouse uses an IR-sensitive camera and an internal source of IR illumination. Rather than sensing movement via scattered light, the camera picks up on light reflected back from finger tips.
The third prototype, the Capacitive Mouse, takes a different route and incorporates capacitive-sensing electrodes that track the location of the user's touch. This device looks even more "mousy" than the Orb version, providing the typical sleek design currently used with many popular mice. The Side Mouse, protocol #4, virtually takes the hand off the device instead and senses the user's fingers as they touch the table surface. "The key interaction possibility that we explore with Side Mouse is the ability to create a multi-touch area that is not restricted to the physical surface of the device," Microsoft said.
The fifth and final mouse is probably the oddest of the bunch, the Arty Mouse, appearing as a crab and providing mouse buttons on each "claw" or "extension." With the palm resting on the main body, each extension resides under the index finer and thumb, and tracks their movement. Microsoft said that it plans to refine the Arty Mouse--in addition to the other four prototypes-- to "deeper explore the interaction techniques that are specific to these new class of input devices." In the meantime, to get more details on each prototype, read the official study and take a peek at the demonstration video here.
The mouse is simply one of those things... They got right the first time around and has only need tweaking here and there.