Pranav Mistry, who earlier had made headlines for his invention Sixth Sense and even received Popular Science 2009 Invention Award for it, has now invented yet another similar device and this time its invisible – A mouse and amusingly it costs just 20$ to build its prototype.
The perpetual changes in computer technology & web has seen many evolutions, right from large room size CPUs to miroprogrammed slim netbooks, heavy bulky monitors to thin LCDs, few MBs capacity hard disks to trillion capacity HDs but in all these what remained nearly unchanged and un-evolved is mouse – moving it around to help us interact computer.
Mouseless is an invisible computer mouse project done in in MIT Fluid Interfaces Group headed by Pranav Mistry, this invisible mouse provides the familiarity of interaction of a physical mouse without actually needing a real hardware mouse, hence removes the requirement of having a physical mouse altogether but still provides the intuitive interaction of a physical mouse that everyone is familiar with.
Mouseless consists of – (1) an Infrared (IR) laser beam, (2) an Infrared camera and both embedded in the computer itself. 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.
However, the possibilities of this mouse is just beyond the capabilities of a modern mouse we use these days as Pranav Mistry stated on its website – As we improve our computer vision algorithms, an extensive library of gestures could be implemented in addition to mouse movement and mouse clicks. Typical multitouch gestures, such as zooming in and out, as well as novel gestures, such as balling one’s fist are all possible. In addition, the use of multiple laser beams would allow for recognition of a wider range of free hand motions, enabling novel gestures that the hardware mouse cannot support.
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