Microsoft to replace the laser mouse

27 Aug 2008

With an exciting, yet nebulous, tagline entitled “Say goodbye to laser” Microsoft is whispering of the demise of the current standard in desktop-user interface – the laser mouse.

The mysterious notice on the Microsoft Hardware site, which doesn’t appear to be accessible on the Irish/UK version, reveals that we will be told about this new product on 9 September, but gives no clue about what it is – or does it?

All we are privy to is the logo, which may be an indication of the new product’s functionality. The blue glowing shapes may be representative of a multi-touch sensor mat or sensor pad that will note movement and pick up input from several input points — perhaps like a mouse version of Microsoft’s surface technology.

Surface is interactive touch technology for countertops and table tops and can be used in both home and retail environments – aside from detecting fingertips it can also identify certain objects placed upon it, useful for say automatically re-ordering empty drinks at a restaurant.

The mouse has evolved over the years from when movement was first supplied by the mechanical trackball, later to be replaced with LED and then laser, both of which determined the mouse’s position relative to movement.

The touch interface, while developed over many years, is relatively new to the consumer market and has been brought to prominence first with the multi-touch input of the Apple MacBook’s trackpad, followed by the huge popularity of the purely touch interface of the iPhone and iPod touch.

It may be that Microsoft wants to bring this ease of functionality to the average PC user, but in mouse form, where physically moving the mouse around by hand to find an area to click on will be phased out and instead replaced with a sensor pad that interprets tapping, sweeping, pressure, pinching and other multiple touch actions.

This writer would like some sort of sensor glove that could detect movement, direction and pressure.

Pictured: Microsoft’s ad for the forthcoming hardware product on 9 September

By Marie Boran