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Aside from adding more buttons and tweaking the ergonomics, there hasn't been a ton of innovation when it comes to the actual design of the computer mouse. That's part of what made Apple's announcement of its multitouch Magic Mouse so interesting, even if you couldn't see yourself using one. And judging by Microsoft's recent prototypes, multitouch rodents could become the next fad in PC peripherals.
"If the [traditional] mouse pointer is your virtual fingertip, we're giving you a virtual hand," says Dan Rosenfeld, a researcher with Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group in Redmond, WA.
Rosenfeld points out that multitouch surfaces exist for tabletops, computer monitors, and smartphones, but "there's really nothing addressing the kind of tasks that lots of people do all day long, sitting in front of a desk at a computer."
This is where Microsoft's prototypes come in. The funky designs look different than any computer mouse you've seen before, and that's the whole point - they are different. Microsoft's Articulated Mouse, for example, comes with finger rests for your thumb and index finger. Three optical sensors then track your movement in each of the two arms of the mouse and the main base.
But the question remains: Is there even a market for multitouch mice? Apple and Microsoft seem hellbent on finding out.
Image Credit: Microsoft