Lexip has turned to Kickstarter to make its eponymous gaming mouse, which features two full joysticks, a reality.
Those who play vehicle sim games know that you can never have too many control axes. The keyboard is only the last resort when you’ve exhausted the two joysticks in your hands, the rudder pedals beneath your feet, the throttle stick and handbrake beside your hips, and the steering wheel in front of your chest. Using a binary switch instead of a control axis is like driving a car with a lead foot. To control a vehicle properly, one needs to be able to apply less than the maximum value to its controls. PC sim games might have seen a decline from their glory days in the early 2000s, but there has been a recent resurgence with games like Star Citizen, War Thunder, and Elite Dangerous.
All the better then that Lexip is bringing its “3D” mouse to the world through Kickstarter. There really isn’t a succinct way to describe it beyond to say that it’s a mouse with two joysticks built into it. The first stick is a miniature, two-axis one, similar to that on any console controller, that’s positioned for the thumb on the side of the mouse. The second stick (also two-axis) is actually the entire top surface of the mouse, which is mounted on a spring-loaded ball joint. This is controlled by your palm or, if you use a claw grip, the combination of all your fingers.
Simulator games are obviously a natural fit for this mouse, then, but a gaming mouse will have a bigger market if you can also cater it to more popular genres. Lexip knows that there are several extremely popular games out there that use more controls than the typical ‘WASD’ combination. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Rainbow Six Siege both have lean controls, Metal Gear Solid 5 has a movement speed control, and ARMA 3 has a crouch height control. Lexip’s gaming mouse can be a boon to these players by giving them more simultaneously usable controls on their mouse hand. Imagine being able to lean left and right by tiling your mouse, or panning the map with your left thumb only.
At this point, we should mention that this mouse actually has a non-gaming predecessor called the 3DM-Pro. One of Lexip’s past creations, that mouse was briefly available in the European market several years ago. It turns out that Lexip has actually been working on its 3D mouse technology for 10 years. The 3DM-Pro, which Lexip now admits was miss-targeted as a tool for professional 3D design, never gained traction. The company acquired new funding and leadership to transform the 3DM-Pro into its current form.
The gaming version is far from a rebrand of its predecessor, though. Almost everything about the mouse, except for the concept, has changed. The sensor has been swapped to an ADNS-9800 laser sensor with up to 8,200 dpi, the external surfaces are new, RGB lighting has been added, and the software has obviously been overhauled for gaming. Lexip has already confirmed support for over 20 popular titles, including the aforementioned PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Overwatch, Destiny 2, Star Citizen, and many others.
Lexip’s Kickstarter surpassed its initial €25,000 goal in 25 minutes, and has now accrued over €100,000 of funding. That amount has unlocked one stretch goal adding swappable cables and thumbstick caps to the Lexip mouse’s feature list. In case you’re worried that you might be backing a pipe dream, we reached out to Lexip for the current status of the mouse’s development. There response is below.
[Done] - Printed Circuit Boards designed - Plastic & Rubber 3D shapes designed - Bill of materials designed and provider chain locked in - Firmware 100% developed - Software 90% developed - 3D printed samples produced and tested - Material providers & new factory warmed up by producing a few hundreds of the old model - Shipping logistics locked in [Remains to be done] - Manufacturing the plastic injection molds (via copper electrolysis) - Running the sample production & full testing - Production & shipping
The Lexip’s two integrated sticks make for four axes, but if you have a game that supports mouse-emulated joystick, then this mouse would give you six-axis control in one hand. Remember what we said about never having enough control axes? Well Lexip is making left handed versions as well, so...
Joking aside, Lexip estimates that the mouse is currently about 80% done and is confident it will be able to ship in June of this year. The mouse can currently be bought by backing it on Kickstarter through a package that is €99 or higher and will ship globally.
While the older 3DM-Pro was mistargeted, it probably wasn't a matter of "not useful" but "market too tiny" - it does kick ass in AutoCAD and Cinema 4D, where I've been lucky enough to see some people owning the older model use it with relish.
Also, I have a friend who's missing an arm, and that would be a boon for her. I think I'll get one for her too.