The Ideal Mouse WishList

As a leftie, I second that wholeheartedly. There is nothing worse than trying to find a comfortable mouse that works in your left hand these days, especially if you want extra features.

I"m currently using a Logitech G900.

TextPoint - I like that name!

The Mac trackpad allows you to configure a two finger click as a right click, but i do not believe it is enabled by default.

I don’t want a mouse at all! Let’s find another way for the user to interact with the screen. :slight_smile: (I’m not actually kidding. I’d love to eliminate the mouse)

So we don’t want to have to take our hands off of the keyboard. We want it small and portable. Bluetooth, of course. Why do we never see an option for our feet??? :slight_smile:

What about a small pedal, or ball of some sort that we place under our foot? Hands stay on the TextBlade. Small movements of the foot move the mouse. Press like a gas pedal to click, etc.

If drummers can coordinate hands and feet then so can we!

Okay, it might make tasks like photo editing in Photoshop difficult (or easier — I don’t know until I get to try it), but think about while you are typing a sentence and you know you need to make an edit in the previous paragraph next. You could be moving the pointer with your foot while typing, then just click it at the new location and continue typing without missing a beat. Try that with ANY mouse. :wink:

Well, just a THINK BIG idea…

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As I think about this mouse question, I find myself reflecting a bit on the “out of the norm” use cases. The ones where we either can or cannot use a given mouse solution. Each of the examples I’m about to give are most likely to be “edge cases” as opposed to the typical use case. But the ability of any particular mouse solution to accommodate these use cases speaks a bit to the flexibility it has.

  1. Very limited “desk space”. What happens when your “mouse area” is heavily restricted - say only a couple inches of vertical or horizontal travel (or both)? This doesn’t matter for a trackpad solution, provided you have room for the trackpad in the first place. A large mouse, however, would make this nigh unusable. The HP 800CT “mouse” can function in this tiny space. The “nib” mouse joystick from ThinkPad laptops is another example that works super well in confined space. Each has pluses and minuses. It is worth noting them for each solution.

  2. “Soft” space. I’ve had MANY occasions (though not frequent) in my life where I ended up using my pants leg as a pseudo mousing area due to the complete lack of anywhere else I could use. Examples of this - on the airplane, in my car, at the park, etc. This is an example where, for me, the “loose” trackpad (ie, not attached to a laptop) becomes problematic for hardware clicking - it NEEDS a solid surface. Gesture based (ie, tapping) clicking works fine. A mouse can function here sometimes (depending on model), but it is a “lesser” experience than on a hard surface.

  3. “Mid air” - ie, no surface whatsoever. For me, this is the least used situation. It is never protracted use (ie, I try to be as minimal with this as I can) specifically because it generally sucks so badly. Examples of this (for me, anyway) include things like configuring a brand new IoT device that requires a computing device to configure, but the locale has no desk, might be inside a closet or in the garage or somewhere that I don’t normally do computing work, but I need to, just for a couple minutes, to configure something. The HP 800CT had the little “attached mouse” which worked for this kind of thing. A trackpad built into a laptop works for this kind of thing. Arguably the best solution I’ve found for this yet has been the phone or tablet.

Again, EACH of these three use cases is a very tiny percentage of what any user would do in say a year of using a pointing device. Still, if the proposed solution from Waytools is to become best of breed, it might want to at least accommodate each of these to some minimal extent.

Just some thoughts.

-Verxion

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On IndieGogo, the CozyTap leverages the laptop camera with proprietary finger position software. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/2143172
There is a Periscope gizmo about the size is a fish oil capsule that fits over the camera so it’s looking down at the keyboard. The user cocks a thumb and it shifts into scroll mode; user then rubs thumb in the side of index finger to scroll. Or touch thumb tip to tip of ring finger to activate cursor motion control. (I made up these examples for illustration purposes, but they are similar to a recent video.)

I backed it as very low cost, but it works only on a laptop where the trackpad is right under the thumb. Current limitation is that it does NOT work on a tablet where the touchscreen requires moving the hand from the keyboard.

For me the ideal cursor and screen controller would require no movement of hands from keyboard, which is what makes the finger gesture idea so attractive.

Maybe you lease the guy’s software; run it from a third CPU in the space blade; and add an inch tall camera tower somewhere an inch north of the nexus of the three blades.

Has anyone mentioned mouse keys? I use these a lot on my Planck keyboard.

LexBaer - cozytap is a creative solution, but requiring a camera looking down from the right angle and height does not help the portability and simplicity that TextBlade users like. The vision algorithms also burn a lot of power and are also subject to aliasing from lighting variations. Think we can do better here.

Dshields - mouse emulators on keyboards are indeed widely practiced, including in an accessibility mode on Mac keyboard preferences. They work, still, there is a unique quality to the feel of progressive motion-based pointing that is desirable. The naturalness of the motion is very important to a good experience.

wow! pt ken! I think that’s a great idea! not sure if it’s doable in a WayTools manner, but I like the concept. I envision using 1 foot to move and the other to click left or right. maybe a device on each shoe/foot that senses movement? or a camera watching your feet? can’t say as either of those ideas would be portable and easy to use but the idea of using feet is intriguing
.

@PT_Ken I am intrigued at the idea of getting away from the hands to use a mouse, but I don’t think that the feet are ideal–Might get awkward at a standing desk, or if you’re somewhere without sufficient foot room. (Economy class in an airplane, sitting just across the table from someone you don’t want to bump feet with, Etc). I also move my feet around a lot while idling at my desk–I don’t like to just sit completely still. If my feet were mousing around, my mouse would jump all over the place rather than staying put. Very distracting and potentially detrimental.

So, what are some other options that get us away from that confining box of thinking that the mouse needs to be used in the hand?

  • Eyemouse is one option, or head tracking.
  • A small piece that fits against the roof of the mouth like a trackpad for your tongue could work. Bit hard to do multi-touch gestures unless you have two tongues, and I wouldn’t want to share my LickPoint mouse with anyone, or borrow theirs. Different mouth sizes and levels of tongue dexterity also come into play.
  • Motion sensors on your elbows; you could do this weird shimmy while typing away. Takes some getting used to, figuring out how to move your elbows without taking hands off the keyboard or shifting position, and you do run the risk of elbowing whoever’s next to you. “Sorry, I control the cursor on my computer by that weird elbow waggle, no, seriously it’s an innovative new…”
  • EEG or other brainwave sensor. Not sure if those actually have the finesse to direct a mouse around and not end up detecting a lot of frustration instead of clear and coherent thoughts about how to move the mouse and the gestures the user wants to perform.
  • Something that responds to facial muscles or similar, some muscle group that the average user 1, isn’t using for much else when at their desk and 2, can learn to twitch and contort with enough fidelity to move a mouse. If it’s the facial muscles, this may result in some very strange expressions made over the course of a day at the office.
  • Something you sit on, and as you shift your weight, it moves the mouse around. Has the added bonus of making it look like you’ve got ants in your pants, sure to impress your boss and coworkers! Also, doesn’t work while at a standing desk.
    https://i.imgur.com/lny6aTu.gif , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwBkbDPez3o
  • What about a pad under the TextBlade itself, so you slide the whole keyboard back and forth, clicking by pressing your left and right wrists down against the mousepad? (Totally different meaning for that word!) It’s not technically hands free, but you wouldn’t have to lift your hands off the TextBlade to mouse around. Some gesture functionality could come from modkeys on the TextBlade, additional buttons on the pad, and also clockwise or counterclockwise rotation of the TextBlade on its mousepad.

I actually like the idea of moving a TextBlade around on a mousepad. The pad could support the TextBlade on a lap or similar, you don’t have to take hands off the keyboard to mouse around, and it could pack in a lot of functionality if designed right. The main problem is that such a pad probably wouldn’t be as small and portable as the TextBlade.

Then again, what is the minimum size required for a TextPoint of some kind? While it might be nice if it was the size of a pen cap or a ring that you can easily forget you have on, really the smallest you have to go is comparable with the devices that people already carry around with them all the time–a smartphone, say. So, a smartphone-sized device that unfolds into a pad that you can rest your TextBlade on and use as a mouse while typing, that supports the TextBlade on a lap or uneven surface. Now all that’s needed is to come up with a catchy name.
TextPoint? PointPad? The ONE (I have no idea what that stands for, or if it does)
Things to think about, and this will make a great follow-up to general release.

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All - for some users, foot pedals have provided relief from wrist strain. (See meekj comments).

Generally, feet are used for click functions, but not pointing. Similarly, pianists use foot pedals to affect overall tone, but not strike specific notes.

Pointing requires fine motor skill that our hands are naturally very good at doing. Foot pointing is hard, and constrains other body activity while seated.

So while a foot clicker Bluetooth peripheral may have utility, it’s unlikely to emerge as the general purpose solution to overall needs.

The key to making pointing much better, is the same as what TextBlade does for typing -

Take out the stress, while enhancing the feel.

This is entirely achievable for pointing too, and much needed.

I think a foot pedal for clicking would be compelling because it would allow the hand on the pointer device to focus on the pointing aspect and not need to double-task with clicking too. I think it would also make it easier to create a pointing device that would be more comfortable in either hand.

One challenge with a foot pedal is that it would likely need to be larger (making it less portable) and keeping it clean would be a hassle.

There are a lot of different, many conflicting, goals for a pointing device. @waytools I’d be interested in know what you are hoping to address. Perhaps you aren’t far enough along to know, but are you seeking to create something superior that is portable, looking to optimize comfort, seeking ultimate functionality (allowing the user to do lots of things without taking her hands off the device, much like the TextBlade allows significant functionality), or something else?

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I do worry that there is too much focus on precision, vs utility&funcitonality as per my messages above. This might be great for the hi tech or early adopter market but too much of a niche (too finely targeted!) for a widespread win in the overall market. But here in this forum, I’m probably the niche in thinking this way.

Taylor - Requirements that seem irreconcilable are often the genesis of great inventions.

They are the most intriguing design opportunities. Very excited to build this after GR.

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Idea2go - pedals can work well for a niche, but not likely the mainstream.

As with TextBlade, goal here is a mainstream device that folks simply like better than legacy mice.

Idea2go - If other requirements are robustly met, folks will always covet high precision.

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I can certainly see a use for a foot pedal, but I think that overall it would have a limited market and use. We have far better control over our fingers and it takes far less effort to activate a click than it would when moving most of a foot! Just as an example, consider the ease of a double click to select a word or triple click to select a paragraph. That’s pretty much nothing with the finger, but a significant increase in effort for a foot pedal.

So, I could see it as an additional option, but not as a primary device.

I agree with @dabigkahuna above. I don’t see a foot pedal as a primary device.

Also, consider that there is a significant portion of the population who have limited or no dexterity in foot movement which would impact the usefulness in this form.

Well, that one takes first prize! LOL. I love it!

I never truly saw foot pedals or foot controls as an actual solution beyond possible clicking, but I am glad that the conversation has begun about thinking away from a traditional mouse construct. The mouse is a great innovation that has served us well, but there must be another way that is better for controlling focus and input.

That brings me to the next point. There are really two general reasons we need to have a mouse to interface with the computer:

  1. Define Focus. We need some way to tell the computer which element on the page we want to do an operation on next. For this, we don’t actually need to move a pointer around on the screen. We could just jump directly to that element and give it focus. The trick is, how? Software sometimes implements predictive functions to jump your focus to the right place, but how can we do something similar from a generic pointing device?
  2. Defining a path. Sometimes we need to draw a path, from beginning to end. We use this as a brush in Photoshop, to highlight a string of text, to draw a box, etc. For this use, the device needs to be able to create a continuous path from A to B, not necessarily linear. Something needs to tell it to start and stop (usually holding down and releasing a mouse button, but it could be something else). In the case of a pen input, we might also need to provide info on pressure and angle along the path.

So how can we perform these two functions, with or without the pressure and angle input of a pen tool, without using a traditional mouse? Or a different version of mouse?

Of course, I have no idea what WayTools has in mind, but it would be great to see whatever it is also handle pressure and angle inputs as if I were using a pen. It would be great when I only need to define which text box to type into if I don’t have to mouse around the whole screen and I have some mechanism to just jump to that area. And it would be great if there was some way to perform drag-draw functions without the need to keep a mouse key pressed — some other way to indicate start and stop that is more natural.

Just some more thoughts off the top of my head.

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PointerPad

For what I want, there are three principles:

  1. Footprint: minimal
  2. Hand position: home row
  3. Multitouch: trackpad-like functionality

Principles 1 and 2 suggest a trackpoint on or slightly above the magnetic connectors between the left and right keyblades. I fell in love with the trackpoint (or whatever Sony called it) when I had a tiny Vaio subnotebook. It was fine for that small screen. You get used to it.

Principle 3 involves my current use of an Apple Trackpad. Yes, I must take my (right) hand off the keyboard, but the multitouch scroll/zoom/pinch and other gesture capabilities make it much more useful and comfortable than a mouse, IMO.

Here’s a little mockup of a “PointerPad” augmentation of the TextBlade:

image

For normal mousing about without taking a hand off the TB, the red Pointer can be reached by either index finger. For other controls, the (light green) Pad can accomodate up to four-finger gestures/clicks with admittedly limited area, but still foldable into the TB stack. I would like this even better if the Pointer could be on top of the center magnets, but suspect that would be difficult to engineer.

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I think @waytools makes EXACTLY the right point when they say:

“Requirements that seem irreconcilable are often the genesis of great invention”

Rephrased - if Steve Jobs had taken what was as his foundation for the iPhone, we’d not have had capacitive screens, a browser or maps on such a small device. People could EASILY have made correct sounding arguments that capacitive touch was too expensive, that a browser or maps make no sense on a device with such horrifically slow carrier based internet service (the original iPhone was edge ONLY!). What about battery life? From BlackBerry’s perspective, the iPhone had UNUSABLE battery life. It was nigh impossible to make it through a day without charging it many times.

But the device that emerged broke those rules and achieved greatness. All smartphones today have been influenced by those previously-thought-to-be irreconcilable requirements.

Something I think is extraordinary about this thread is that we are able to discuss something like a foot “clicking” mechanism without people shooting it down on the face of the idea itself.

I think it is instructive to ignore implementation sometimes. An example that comes to mind are AirPods. A lot of what makes them brilliant (in my opinion anyway) are things that are OBVIOUSLY impossible to solve with generally accepted technological solutions:

  1. PITIFUL battery life. “A device that small would only last a few hours before it would go dead!”. For me, the battery life is stellar. I use my AirPods most days from 3am until about 7pm continuously. How? I put the left one in and when it beeps that it is getting low, I put the right one in and swap the left one out to the charging case. By the time the right one beeps that it is getting low, the left one is fully charged. I can sometimes go two days before needing to charge the charging case.

  2. Automatically detect when the device is in the ear, pair it to the primary device and start playing audio. “They are pretty small to put a switch on to tell us they are going to be in the ear, and how do you make a switch that won’t hurt someone’s ear? Also, wouldn’t it be a pain to have to hit two switches, each on such tiny devices, to let them know they are each in an ear?” Well Apple decided to really think outside the box on this one - they have an infrared (or similar) sensor that detects when they are in the ear because of proximity. I don’t know exactly how it works, but these little TINY devices detect when they are in my ears EVERY SINGLE TIME.

  3. Answering the phone. “Have you ever TRIED to hit the switch on existing bluetooth headsets?!? It is insanely hard…”. They just made it so a simple double tap will answer the phone or hang it up. It works 100% of the time, is super simple and convenient, and as far as I know, no one else had ever done that before.

So before we decide a foot “clicker” would never make the mainstream, realize that the implementation might be something so different from what we would first think of that it MIGHT be able to be mainstream. What if, instead of a physical thing sitting on the floor that we’d tap with our foot, it was instead something that, from our pants pocket, could identify the “gesture” of tapping the foot? I realize this particular implementation wouldn’t be perfect (what about a lady wearing a dress with no pockets, for example?), but the point I’m trying to make is that it is better to think of what might be good without thinking about how it would be implemented.

For my part, despite having had BAD carpal tunnel in my life (I’ve since had surgery), clicking a mouse button has never felt like a hardship. I don’t see a big issue with the clicking being done by a foot, but The benefit of it seems (to me at least) depend on the “mouse pointing” implementation. On a traditional mouse, I don’t think it makes it substantially harder to move with precision whether I am pressing a mouse button or not. On a trackpad where you have to physically press down to represent a click, yes, for me, it is more of a pain to keep it depressed while dragging, and certainly leads to faster fatigue. I think the index finger as a simple pointing/dragging indicator is immensely accurate for most people, especially after some period of time using it as such. I like the Apple implementation where I can now drag with the index finger and use a DIFFERENT finger to “tap” the “mouse button”, but I don’t know that this is something people are universally comfortable with.

I think I lean toward a “trackpad-like” implementation for the pointing aspects of using this proposed replacement mouse solution. The button clicking or gestures themselves though, I’m very open to new solution. I don’t know of one I’d propose right now though. The closest “best of breed” mouse device I’ve used thus far is the Magic Trackpad. It SUCKS for gaming though. For everything else, I find it to be spectacular. I’d NEVER call it portable though. Yes, I could put it into my pocket, but I’d never want to.

-Verxion

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That pad placement is much like I was thinking. Not ideal, but certainly less reach than we have now.