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Touchless Mouse Interface

Touchless Mouse Interface

Mouseless hopes to reinvent the computer mouse…

Human touch interfaces have advanced radically in the recent years, so much so that some systems have replaced the touch of a finger tip for the motion of gesture controls.

But when it comes to the classic computer mouse, there have been little developments of late – aside from Apple’s cool multi-touch controls, which featured in the unfortunately uncomfortable Magic Mouse.


Mouseless Touchless Mouse

But now, Pranav Mistry, a research assistant and PhD candidate at the Fluid Interfaces Group, MIT Media Lab, hopes to reinvent the classic mouse with the ‘Mouseless’, a device that uses an infra red laser beam and IF camera to track the users hand, without the need for an actual hardware mouse.

Mouseless consists of an Infrared (IR) laser beam (with line cap) and an Infrared camera. Both IR laser and IR camera are embedded in the computer. 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.

The Mouseless is not the first touch-less device we have seen – we’ve featured the Glove Mouse also developed at MIT, and the Vision-Based Input for Smart Phones – but it’s the first invention to remove the requirement of having a physical mouse whilst still providing the intuitive interaction we are familiar with. And the best part – Mistry’s fully working prototype cost around $20 to build. At this kind of price, the Mouseless is more than viable for mass production.

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