Electronic Design

Mouse Broadens Use Of Senses In Computing

The iFeel MouseMan, a mouse that "feels," is Logitech's newest innovation. A motor inside this mouse conveys a sense of texture to the hand guiding it. While this technology sprang from the video-game arena, Logitech believes it will have a tremendous impact on the nature of PC use and Web-page design.

While sight and sound are both utilized in Web-page construction, the aspect of touch is lacking. Using a force-feedback technology licensed from Immersion Corp., a mass inside this device can vibrate very rapidly against the plastic outer shell. If the mouse is run over an image of a tennis racket, a series of small twitches will simulate the racket's hard plastic cords. Similarly, when the device glides over an image of an ice cube, it will seem to slide more smoothly.

Users can customize the sense of touch through software offered by Logitech. Specific icons can be made to feel metallic or rubbery. Also, available software enables web designers to incorporate texture into their pages. It is believed that the addition of touch will heighten the user interface associated with the Internet. This technology also may advance online shopping, letting users actually feel the material that they are purchasing.

Optical technology heightens its accuracy. For customization purposes, MouseWare software is included. This device fully supports Internet Explorer 5.0 and Netscape 4.5, 4.6, and 4.7. System requirements include an IBM-compatible PC, a CD-ROM drive, and an available USB port. The host computer also must run Windows 98/2000 or higher.

Available now, the iFeel MouseMan costs $39 in a standard mouse shape. A contoured version for right-handed users is available for $59.

Logitech, 6505 Kaiser Dr., Fremont, CA 94555; (510) 795-8500; Internet: www.logitech.com.

TAGS: Components
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