Microsoft Touch Mouse - Trying make the navigation experience much better and easier in Windows 7

The making of Microsoft Touch Mouse
Two years. Dozens of experiments. Hundreds of prototypes. The passion and focus of teams on two continents. These are just a few of the things that went into the creation of the innovative Microsoft Touch Mouse, an interactive tool that makes doing almost every task with Windows 7 more intuitive.

In 2008, Hrvoje Benko, a researcher in the Adaptive Systems and Interaction Group at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash., had been working on a multi-touch handheld device prototype with his colleague Dan Rosenfeld. Meanwhile, a Microsoft Research Cambridge team, including Shahram Izadi, Nicolas Villar, and John Helmes, had developed an articulated mouse prototype. The two groups decided to join forces.

“We were all intrigued by the idea of merging the precision and pointing benefits of standard mice with the rich interactions that we had with multi-touch devices, such as Microsoft Surface,” said Benko. “We wanted to see if we could bring multi-touch interactions to the desktop without losing the keyboard or the mouse.”

Over the next couple of years, the team created many prototypes, five of which were shown at the Microsoft Research TechFest in 2009. The early versions of Touch Mouse included three types: camera-based, capacitive-sensing, and articulated (which used multiple existing mice linked together).

The team simulated Surface-like multi-touch functions, desktop management functions, symbolic gesture recognition, and CAD applications—even 3D first-person shooter games.

Ultimately, the researchers settled on the capacitive-sensing model, which has functionality similar to a touchscreen. Then came the testing of hundreds of forms and models with the Microsoft Hardware team, refining as they went for comfort and gesture interaction. The team built a gesture recognition engine, refined the sensor design, and continued to add enhancements over many months.

The result is Touch Mouse, featuring natural gestures including some of the most common tasks that people do with Windows 7, like opening and moving between windows and task switching.

In addition, Touch Mouse uses gestures that engage the whole hand, and works exclusively with Windows 7. Touch Mouse also features BlueTrack technology, which lets people track on virtually any surface*.

Benko, asked to describe Touch Mouse in just three words, said: “That’s easy: Delightful. Fluid. And incredible!”

*BlueTrack Technology does not work on clear glass and mirrored surfaces.


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