Just as computers get regular upgrades, so do the peripherals. The computer mouse has seen some relatively major and minor changes, from kitschy to high-tech to just plain cool. One thing’s for sure: These devices have come a long way since their first incarnation nearly half a century ago, as a chunky, one-button block of wood. Here’s a look at some of the most intriguing new mice hitting the market.
Fujitsu is taking strides in the biometrics department with its PalmSecure mouse, which uses vein-pattern recognition technology instead of the more prevalent fingerprint-reading technology. The mouse’s scanner captures an image of the veins in your hand and converts it into a biometric template, comparing it to a database of preregistered templates. Ideal for companywide use, Fujitsu says its PalmSecure mouse will drastically reduce the headaches and administrative costs associated with other identification methods, such as passwords. Plus, the mouse’s scanner is extremely accurate. It has a false acceptance rate of less than 0.00007 percent. But all that security doesn’t come cheap; a single mouse and its accompanying software will cost more than $400 when available later this year.
Many of the newer mice boast better design and greater convenience. Microsoft’s $59.95 Arc Mouse takes the shape of an arch while in use then folds to 60 percent of its expanded size for when you’re on the go. And it’s more than just a pretty package; Arc Mouse has a snap-in micro-transceiver and wireless capability of up to 30 feet.
Wireless mice have a new accessory option thanks to Buffalo, which will soon release a tiny 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi dongle, the WLI-UC-GN. One of the smallest of its kind, the device measures just 16 by 33 by 8 millimeters and runs at up to 150Mbps. The dongle is perfect for laptop and notebook users, as its small size allows it to remain attached during transport in most bags. In addition, it’s less likely to be broken off or damaged than larger devices. The WLI-UC-GN can also configure other compatible wireless devices, such as Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.
Lenovo’s IdeaCentre A600 all-in-one desktop computer, expected to debut this spring, has an optional motion-based remote control, what some are calling an “air mouse.” Perhaps more innovative than practical, the air mouse functions like the remote for the Nintendo Wii gaming console, controlling objects on the screen from a distance. It also works as a Voice over Internet Protocol headset and a media center remote. Though perhaps not ideal for everyday computing, Lenovo’s air mouse provides an intriguing look at the possibilities of remote computer operation. Prefer to keep the distance only with your Wii? Not to worry; the $999 IdeaCentre comes with a traditional wireless mouse, too.
Another innovative update is the Footime foot mouse, created by Keytools. The foot mouse is being billed as the solution to workplace-related musculoskeletal disorders such as repetitive strain injury; it’s also an option for physically challenged computer users who are unable to manipulate a standard mouse. A bit on the clunky side, the Footime mouse has a specially designed slipper you slide around a pad for cursor movement. You use your other foot to operate the mouse controls, a board of large, brightly colored buttons reminiscent of a Dance Dance Revolution gamepad. Though it’s unlikely that many office workers will be eagerly stowing this new set of hardware under their desks, the foot mouse is a viable alternative for those who can’t use a standard mouse or suffer from severe hand and wrist strain. The device, which costs about $150, is just one example of computer gadgets being developed to address health issues.
Those with a sense of adventure can pick from Four Door Media’s collection of Road Mice. These tiny, detailed replicas of popular sports cars are wireless, optical computer mice. Some popular models include the Chevy Z06 Corvette, the Dodge Charger police car, and the Ford Mustang GT, all with functioning headlights. All models are priced at less than $50. And, yes, for an additional fee these cars come with insurance. Wired Road Mice are available as well.