I’ve been using a SwiftPoint GT as my primary mouse for even longer than I’ve had my hands on a TextBlade. The SwiftPoint is good, but it has some distinct problems.
-Right hand only. I’ve had a lot of problems because my SwiftPoint only works with my right hand, and after a while that can start to mess with my right wrist and hand. So, any TextBlade pointing solution MUST be ambidextrous.
-SwiftPoint needs a flat surface, and more than that, a firm one to activate its gesture features. TextPoint needs to be able to work without a flat surface, including for gestures if it supports them (and they are very handy)
-Middle click is too hard to use on SwiftPoint. A third button would be very handy, especially if it is programmable or key-modifiable.
There are also some good points about SwiftPoint:
+Precise. SwiftPoint has a way to customize its DPI settings, and the default settings are very good. It also changes sensitivity in response to how fast you move it–the pointer moves further if you move the SP half an inch with a fast jerk than if you move it the same half inch at a snail’s pace.
+Portable. Like the TextBlade, the SwiftPoint disappears into just about any bag or pocket, though it’s a little lumpy to be comfortable in pants pockets, so I typically leave it in one of the organizer pockets of my typical laptop bag.
+Durable. I have accidentally dropped my SwiftPoint dozens of times, onto everything from carpet to concrete; it has suffered no apparent damage.
+Long battery life, and easy to recharge. SwiftPoint lasts me a week or more on a charge, and it snaps magnetically to its paired dongle to recharge. It can also hang on that dongle as I carry my computer tucked under one arm, which is very handy. For TextPoint, it would be handy if it charged from the same style of NanoCharger as the TextBlade itself.
So, now for a few ideas about what the TextPoint might be:
1, a support base for the TextBlade that the three main blades snap to at their main junction. So, rather than the blades connecting directly to each other, they would snap onto the upside-down T shape of the TextPoint. That lets TextPoint use the same BT connection as TextBlade, and share battery power as well. From there, have a trackpad either above the keyblades in the V of the TextBlade, or a trackpad below the spaceblade. Possibly have it be reversible, so it can be above or below the TextBlade at user preference.
- Trackpads aren’t perfectly precise, but they are pretty good, and they are also pretty simple as far as their mechanical components.
- Physical click buttons are a MUST for a good trackpad–left and right click. I have had trackpads where the only way to click was to tap or two-finger tap. I have tried Mac trackpads which only have a left-click option. Both of these are unacceptable. There MUST be two distinct, physically clicky regions of the trackpad. My current one, you can physically click anywhere but the top third and the dead center of the pad; left half is left click, right half is right click.
- Gesture support is handy–two finger scroll, zoom, Etc. I also would like a way to regulate those gestures, limiting the scroll to only vertical or horizontal, switching to zoom without having to pinch if I don’t want, Etc.
- I don’t think that turning the SpaceBlade into a trackpad would be very useful–too hard to distinguish inputs, too easy to frustrate the user. Better to have a separate trackpad, just keep it close to the TextBlade to reduce hand movement.
2, a ring or similar device that can be worn on either hand, and can be used with or without a solid surface. Some physical buttons on there would also be handy. This might be in the form of a small trackpad/thumbstick on the side of the hand/index finger, meant to be worked with the thumb of the corresponding hand. For additional precision, consider gesture controls by moving the ring around, or having it work like an optical mouse if you touch your finger to a surface.
- One of the key things to consider with anything worn on the hand would be that it can’t get in the way of typing–nothing on the fingertips.
Option 3 for TextPoint would be a head-mounted eye tracker, possibly with an activation button as well as left, right, and “gesture” buttons as an extension to the TextBlade. The eyemouse buttons on the TextBlade could connect at the upside-down T junction of the blades, and give extra buttons in the V above the keyblades. One button to activate the eyemouse and tell it to start paying attention to where you’re looking. This prevents the mouse from constantly flying all over the screen as you glance around. Click once to turn eyemouse on, click again or start typing to turn eyemouse off. Physical left and right click buttons prevent you from having to blink out your clicks or something bizarre and unintuitive like that. The “gesture” button switches eyemouse from moving the mouse around to gesture controls, such as scrolling, switching workspaces/apps/windows, and other functions. The “gesture” modifier(s ) might be a chord on the TextBlade, same as the eyemouse activation.
- Have to figure out a way for the eye tracker to be compatible with glasses, lazy eyes, and similar.
- Hard to make a head-mounted system accurately track where your eyes are pointed relative to the screen. Option one: ignore the screen. Eye tracking moves the mouse based on how the individual moves their eyes. (Even if you aren’t looking at your screen, you can move the mouse around by glancing.) This results in the mouse not going where the eyes are looking, just moving right if eyes are looking to the right, up if looking up, Etc. Option two: have a camera on the eye tracker that also looks at the user’s screen, and lines up the user’s gaze based on that. Way too complex to do well. Option three: same as option 2, but have stickers or something that go around the screen for the system to align itself relative to those markers. Means that everyone has to put alignment markers next to every screen they want to use with their eyemouse; ugly, annoying, and it won’t work on smartphones that are following the “minimum bezel” trend. Plus, people need a set of stickers for each device. Option four: a program that runs in the background of a user’s device and generates near-invisible alignment markers on the screen for the headset to track, like arcade light guns track a grid of points marked out on the screen that most humans can’t see. That might take special screens, as well as a different program for every flavor of OS out there. Since standard screens can’t produce trackable infrared dots or whatever, this might result in someone’s 4K monitor being marred with flickering little dots so their eyemouse can line itself up.