Pranav Mistry of MIT Media Lab has invented an invisible mouse he calls “Mouseless.” By combining an infrared (IR) laser beam and an IR camera inside the side of a laptop, software can detect and track your hand movement atop of a flat surface and convert it into on-screen mouse movement, left/right clicks, and pinch/scroll gestures. Want to get a bit more technical?
The laser beam module is modified with a line cap and placed such that it creates a plane of IR laser just above the surface the computer sits on. The user cups their hand, as if a physical mouse was present underneath, and the laser beam lights up the hand which is in contact with the surface. The IR camera detects those bright IR blobs using computer vision. The change in the position and arrangements of these blobs are interpreted as mouse cursor movement and mouse clicks. As the user moves their hand the cursor on screen moves accordingly. When the user taps their index finger, the size of the blob changes and the camera recognizes the intended mouse click.
It’s pretty incredible. The protoype costs a mere $20, so if this technology were to be picked up by a major manufacturer I’m sure it would be a simple addition. See it in action in the video above. And check out some relevant stills in the gallery below.
Controlling a computer using nothing but your hands. A feat we’ve all seen done before by Mr. Cruise in Minority Report. As part of a final project in a digital media course, a couple of MIT students have created an extremely crude version of what we saw in the sci-fi movie. Using gloves with LED tips and a webcam, the students demo how an on-screen image can be manipulated with various hand gestures. So we’re not there yet, but at least we’re moving forward. Take a look at the gloves in the gallery below.
Logitech has gone ahead and turned all iPhones into portable keyboards and mice for computers. Sure, it’s not the first company to do it, but it’s here and the execution is top notch. And there’s this: it’s absolutely free. It uses WiFi to wireless connect to your PC or Mac, and the text you type is displayed on the screen, removing the annoyance of looking up at the computer every second. Additional features include:
Multi-touch trackpad with the option for two or three mouse buttons
Keyboard with Control, Alt, Command/Windows keys
On-screen text display while typing
Show or hide the keyboard at any time
Trackpad and keyboard are available in landscape and portrait modes
It’s available for the iPhone and iPod touch at the App Store. And did I mention it’s free?
Scientists at Princeton are conducting experiments to study the neurons of mice. What better way to do it than strapping a mouse to a suspended ball and having it run through a computerized maze based on a level from Quake 2?
Microsoft Research believes it can. The video above goes behind-the-scenes at MS Research, revealing five prototype mice that are still in the works. They include “cap mouse,” “FTIR (Frustrated Total Internal Reflection) mouse, “orb mouse,” “arty (articulated) mouse,” and “side mouse.” Each of them use a different method of multitouch to perform on-screen action. They are like multitouch track pads featured in laptops but converted and developed in mouse form. Very interesting stuff, to say the least. I’m glad to see Microsoft taking a look at unique and intuitive input methods for the future. With word of a new multi-touch capable Apple Mighty Mouse in the works, this was a timely move for Microsoft.