3-D Mouse Ring Invented

Posted on May 22, 2007

3D Ring MouseGizmag reports that a new 3D mouse that can be worn as a ring may be the path towards a Minority Report style of web navigation system.
MagicMouse, a three-dimensional ultrasonic computer mouse designed by a team of five WPI undergraduates, is one of 10 inventions honored with the inaugural PopSci Invention Awards, the cover story in the June 2007 issue of Popular Science.

Developed by seniors Christian Banker (Norwich, Conn.), Michael Cretella Jr. (Monroe, Conn.), Jeff DiMaria (Prospect, Conn.), Jamie Mitchell (Worcester, Mass.), and Jeffrey Tucker (Nottingham, N.H.), the mouse is designed to permit a computer user to control and manipulate items on a computer screen just by pointing at the monitor. The mouse uses an array of receivers to track the motion of a tiny ultrasonic transmitter worn on the index finger like a ring.

The MagicMouse is a true 3D mouse. Users can move the cursor about the screen simply by pointing and moving their index finger. Zooming is achieved by moving the hand nearer to or farther from the screen. Since both actions can be done simultaneously, the mouse makes it possible to work easily in three dimensions to pan and zoom through 3D maps, for example, or manipulate objects in computer-aided design (CAD) drawing packages. The mouse could also make game play more realistic and interactive, much as the novel 3D remote on the new Nintendo Wii game console has done. For more routine applications, like word processing and web surfing, the WPI students note that controlling a computer with hand gestures should make computer use more intuitive and less intimidating.

The device uses standard mouse protocol to communicate with the PC - so it doesn't need any additional software, and is plug-and-play through its USB interface.
The 3-D aspect of the mouse works by using "time difference of arrival (TDOA)" which is how GPS also works. There are obviously numerous commercial aspects for this project. The students who came up with the MagicMouse are very worthy of the PopSci Invention Award and the cover story in Popular Science. A news release can be found here.