Microsoft Research Demos Five Next-Gen Input Prototypes

Paul Lilly

Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group plans to present a paper on five different touch-sensitive mice prototypes during this week's User Interface Software and Technology Conferences in British Columbia, Canada.

With Windows 7 touting mutlitouch capabilities, this could be Microsoft's way appealing to the majority of users who don't own a touchscreen display. But don't expect to see all five designs come to fruition - it's much more likely that the five prototypes would end up being whittled down to one or two products.

FTIR (Frustrated Total Internal Reflection) Mouse

This prototype uses the principle of frustrated total internal reflection and has a built-in-camera to sense user's touches on top of an arc-shaped piece of acrylic.

Orb Mouse

Utilizes a hemispherical surface with an IR-sensitive camera for multitouch capabilities. Microsoft says the design allows for an easy to grip form-factor that remains comfortable, particularly for the fingers.

Cap (Capacitive) Mouse

Tracks the position of multiple fingers on its surface though the use of a flexible matrix of capacitive-sensing electrodes under the top of the surface. This is the most compact prototype of the five listed. It's also low on power consumption.

Side Mouse

Designed to rest under the user's palm and allow the fingers to touch the table surface in front of the device. The mouse then senses the proximity of the user's fingers as they touch the table instead of the mouse. Has the potential for two-handed input.

Arty (Articulated) Mouse

Probably the most other-worldly design of the bunch, the Arty Mouse builds on the Side Mouse design with a base for the palm of the hand to rest and two arms that can be freely and independently moved on the table by the thumb and index finger. Microsoft says this allows for a high-resolution optical mouse sensor to be placed under two of the user's fingers for high sensitivity computing.

Image Credits: Microsoft

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