Welcome to the future of mice, multitouch style.
Microsoft researchers are exploring new ways of navigating the desktop environment without ever needing the user to take their hands off the desk - via a multitouch mouse.
Microsoft Surface vs multitouch mice
Multitouch applications might be all the rage at the moment, but they do have some specific drawbacks: space, size and cost. Microsoft's Surface has already made great strides in promoting the popularity of multitouch surfaces.
But products such as Microsoft's surface are still too large, bulky and difficult to port around. And touchscreens by their nature cannot be adapted to existing monitors. They are expensive and the technology is rapidly changing, threatening obsolescence in these bigger devices.
The secret, as researchers discovered in their testing, was to contain the touch gestures at the source of the mouse and keep the wrist stationed in one spot, without needing any unnecessary movement.
In a Microsoft research video designed to show off the many benefits of multitouch mice, designers have illustrated how an entire keyboard of gaming gestures - key playing a first person shooter (FPS) - could be accomplished on the mouse.
Fingers and hands can slide from side to side to position the player through the gaming environment, while multi-clicks and multitouch gestures on the smooth surface of the button-less mouse allows players to change weapons, collect ammunition and navigate through the 3D environment.
The concept also has potential appeal for photographers and designers. Just in the same way we would interact with a touchscreen, a multitouch mouse could make it easier to scroll through and mange photographs, expand images and highlight areas for editing all with a few finger gestures.
Accessibility and portability
Because of their size and universal connectivity, multitouch mice have the potential to become just as popular as the traditional click version. The multitouch mouse works on camera sensors instead of lasers or trackball, so the components are likely not to cost anywhere near the price of more expensive touchscreens and multitouch tablet devices.
We're still a few years away from the mice hitting retail stores, but you can bet that Microsoft won't be the only ones to keep their fingers in the touch pie. Not to be outdone, Mac users may soon have a touch device too. There are reports that Apple are also working on a multitouch mouse.
Is the multitouch mouse a good idea. Would you prefer multitouch over the traditional laser or rollerball mouse?