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Finally, the Articulated Mouse, also known as Arty, features two mini-mouse finger rests connected to the base. Each of the three parts contains an optical sensor for tracking movement, so that Arty can be manipulated by moving the base as well as each of the mini-mice separately.

In each of the five prototypes, although the user still moves the cursor across the screen by moving the entire mouse across the desktop, multitouch functions are accessed by moving individual fingers. Software created by Microsoft lets the user control their computer using these multitouch functions.

Shahram Izadi, a TR35 award winner who worked on Microsoft’s multitouch mice, says there’s still much work to be done on all of the prototypes. In particular, he says, the researchers need to determine the most natural way for users to switch between multitouch capabilities and standard mousing action. Activating the multitouch features with an extra mouse click makes the device slightly more difficult to use, but having those features available all the time means they might be accidentally triggered. “Users wanted to click the device to trigger the multitouch,” Izadi says. “But it’s not the most ergonomic form to click and then gesture.”

Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University who has worked on multitouch devices in the past, says multitouch can be useful, but he isn’t sure it’s right for computer mice. “The real benefit of multitouch is when you can take the whole top of a table or desk and use that to drag things around,” he says. “Confining it to the size of a mouse might actually slow you down,” particularly because clicking is so efficient.

Rosenfeld says that while efficiency is important, it’s not the only goal. A good tool, he says, should be both efficient and delightful. Ideally, a device lets you focus on your task and gets the job done, “but it’s also just a really lovely object to use.”

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Credit: Microsoft
Video by Microsoft

Tagged: Computing, Apple, Microsoft, interface, multitouch, computer mouse

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