You think you can handle a mouse? Well, forget all you think you know about mice, and feast your eyes on the Microsoft Soap mouse. The fact of the matter is that the Redmond company is by no means reinventing the wheel, or in this case the mouse. But the Soap mouse project from Microsoft Research does redefine the user interaction with the device by combining the mouse with the mouse pad. Just watch the video embedded at the bottom in order to get an idea of what the Soap mouse is and how it manages to overhaul navigation.
Microsoft has already tested the mouse in a variety of scenarios involving anything from controlling the pointer to playing interactive video games.
"Soap is a pointing device based on hardware found in a mouse, yet works in mid-air. Soap consists of an optical sensor device moving freely inside a hull made of fabric. As the user applies pressure from the outside, the optical sensor moves independent from the hull. The optical sensor perceives this relative motion and reports it as position input. Soap offers many of the benefits of optical mice, such as high-accuracy sensing. We have tried soap for a variety of application scenarios, including wall display interaction, Windows Media Center, slide presentation, and interactive video games", revealed Patrick Baudisch, a research scientist in the field of human-computer interaction at the Adaptive Systems and Interaction Research Group at Microsoft Research.
And yet there is no indication from the company that the Microsoft Research Soap project will find its way onto store shelves as an actual product. But perhaps the best aspect of Soap is that you do not have to wait for the mouse to become commercially available. You can in fact build your very own, courtesy of Baudisch. Via this link you can access a whitepaper describing in minute detail how to put together a Soap mouse.