Breaking Free from the Mouse Trap

Ever since Windows 95, the mouse had a place in millions of homes across the world. Even today, with portables like Ultra-books and tablets dominating the mind share, we know several people who carry their mice in their bags. Using the mouse is not a habit it is a lifestyle – we want to hang on to them forever.

The modern mice are more than pointing devices. On top of providing experiences like smooth scrolling, the mice like the Touch Mouse have the ability to switch between apps and snap windows. This is not a novel concept, considering that PC users are used to gestures on the touch pads of their laptops. Now that you are thinking about the Apple trackpad with multi touch gestures, we would like to take the opportunity to let you know that PC manufacturers like sony and Toshiba had similar functionality (without multi touch) on their laptops before the MACs.

But are the gestures enough? Is our adorable mouse living a free life?

The answer is partly yes and partly no. If you are using a Windows 7 PC or a Mac with OSX Lion then it a yes. The Touch Mouse and the Trackpad provide a great experience to navigate and switch tasks in the operating systems. Sure, that compatibility stays when Windows 8 hits the market but just doing gestures is not a enough for the fabulous operating system.

Not Just An Operating System

Windows 8 is not the usual performance and interface update, you would expect. The OS will change the way people interact with their devices, no more tablets that can do only dumb tasks, productivity will take the center stage.

Blah, blah… you know all that, so what’s with unleashing the mouse? Before letting the plan out here is a small scenario from the CES this year.

The Sensors and Looking Crazy

Apart from the cool METRO interface, Windows 8 has great in built support for sensors like Accelerometers and Gyroscopes. The METRO applications will have access to these cool methods of control. So a leading chip manufacturer based in Santa Clara, who is banking heavily on Windows 8, came up with a form factor that didn’t make sense to a lot of people. The team played a flight game using the accelerometer, like you do on your phone, by lifting their 3 pound laptop  – stop laughing – they really did it – not we are not lying… OK.. here is a famous link to the joke, if you don’t trust us.

The blogosphere was not impressed, people joked about this and was written off as just an unnecessary feature for them to sell new devices. It is hard to envision people playing games by lifting up their laptops, unless you are in a Big Bang Theory setting.

The Burden and Responsibility of Microsoft

Windows is not just a mobile operating system nor is it only made for laptops. Several families, companies have desktops. The old desktops do not have an opportunity to use these applications nor can the new ones, unless you want to put a accelerometer in your 10 pound rig and lift it to fly a plane.

Exercise: Pick your mouse up and imagine yourself playing Halo and you are controlling the character with an accelerometer in your mouse, instead of the controller or the arrow keys. It was fun, wasn’t it?

So does this mean that the desktop user cannot play the cool games and have fun like tablet owners? For me, as someone who comes from a developing country it is hard to say yes. There was point of time when my entire family had only one PC, this is still the case with several others who cannot afford multiple devices.

You know where we are getting with this, don’t you?

A Secret Microsoft Did Not Tell Us, But We Know

On I was sitting at Dunkin Donuts,  refeshing my browser, for the news on the Window 8 Store preview. I saw something which Microsoft did not clearly talk about – Windows Phone apps. Wordament, Tentacles and Rise of Glory, all those awesome apps were sitting right there in the app store. Sure, they might have been rewritten but not with a lot of effort.

Stephen Sinofsky announced at BUILD that the apps can be ported easily and it is very probable to see a lot of XBOX Live titles on Windows 8.

Unleashing the Mouse

We have Mouse that has a capacitive sensor on the top and can do gestures. If a gyroscope/accelerometer is added to it, playing METRO games on older hardware or new low budget hardware will be easy. The Mouse was always the hardcore gamers favorite gaming device (remember how PC gamers ripped XBOX gamers in cross platform games) but this will extend it to the casual gaming community.

Will This Work?

Oh it will have so many limitations..Lifting up a mouse to control games? Ridiculous.. Uh?

Wii… Did the thoughts stop?

The traditional form factors will have compatibility with the new Windows 8 apps with the help of keyboards, but using a motion sensing device is much more fun, isn’t it?

Stay tuned, as we would further refine the concept. Of course, there will be hurdles, but the possibilities are endless.


One thought on “Breaking Free from the Mouse Trap

  1. Pingback: Idea Generation: SCAMPER | Art of Touch @ Penn State

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