While multi-touch technology would at first appear to dispense with any need for it, a computer mouse has benefits that a touch-screen cannot offer. It allows for functions such as scrolling with less movement of the hands, and enables users to click on targets with a higher degree of accuracy. We therefore developed SurfaceMouse, a virtual mouse that appears as the user needs it, to supplement multi-touch technology.

The mouse was designed to work on any interactive surface that allows for multiple points of interaction and a measurement of the area of contact. The mouse appears when the software detects that a user has placed their hand on the surface as if a mouse were already present. The user can then move the mouse in two dimensions, scroll as if with a scroll wheel, and left- and right-click. SurfaceMouse is able to detect the user’s hand size and orientation, as well as whether they are left- or right-handed, and produce a mouse that is suitable for them.

Collaborators: Chris Harrison, Scott E. Hudson (Carnegie Mellon University)

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