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Invisible computer mouse cost only $20 to build


July 7, 2010

The Mouseless invisible mouse system is the next logical step in input periperhal development

The Mouseless invisible mouse system is the next logical step in input periperhal development

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Pranav Mistry, Pattie Maes and Liyan Chang from MIT's Media Lab have managed to create an invisible computer mouse for just a few dollars. Using an Infrared laser and tracking camera, the Mouseless system registers and interprets a user's hand movement and translates it into onscreen actions such as cursor movement and button clicking.

While others take the familiar input peripheral to new levels by cramming as many buttons as possible onto it or making the surface available for multi-touch interaction or even moving the whole experience to the end of a user's leg, Pranav Mistry and colleagues have dispensed with its physical form altogether.

With their Mouseless prototype, a user's hand movements are tracked with a line-capped Infrared laser beam and an Infrared camera. The beam's plane is aimed just above the surface of the user area and when the user cups the hand, as if holding a physical mouse, this breaks the beam at the points where each finger touches the surface The camera then registers and interprets the changing field shapes and translates them into movement or action, such as clicking and double-clicking.

The developers are continuing to improve the tracking and recognition algorithms to build up a library of commands, possibly leading to multi-touch gesturing in addition to simple click confirmation.

The prototype system is said to have cost just US$20 to put together and can be seen in action in the following demonstration:

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

generally im impressed with the inventions I see here...but this one already exists as part of another device that does much more...CES 2010: Celluon Virtual has a entire keyboard with mouse feature....

Dylan Patterson

Good Invention.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Anumakonda Jagadeesh

This is very interesting...I like the idea a lot. In fact, I think I want one!

The Cellatron keyboard is neat too, but expensive and I prefer a real, tactile keyboard. A mouse can be a nuisance however...virtualizing it makes a lot of sense.

David Anderson

Looks like these guys are into the cool stuff. I think quite frankly that after SixthSense, they have been continuously adapting and modifying their virtual projection and touch systems to suit various situations. So skinput and invisible mouse. Next?? 1. virtual keypads for entry into secured hit a specific button that launches the keypad. 2.still on secure access areas, since the sixthsense is able to recognize specific gestures, you might wave your hand in a certain way to gain access. the device into mobile phones,PDAs and so on. My long before they come to the market???? Personally, i want the skinput paired with a tiny bluetooth earpiece.


This technique a by-product of pranav mistry\'s ingenious TED,which will be a product ruling our future


I suppose medicine will be the best choice of career then because there will be no shortage of cancer patiences and will only multiply combine with all sort of new discover illness on the rise due to over long period of exposure to Infra-Laser waves.


I don\'t understand the need to have a mouse location away to the side. If this was as convenient as a trackpad, not having to move your hands away from the keyboard, it would be a very cool upgrade.


Interesting, but how much of the computer\'s resources does this gadget require, especially if there is no hand activity by the user? A mouse or trackball is interrupt-driven, and consumes zero resources when it isn\'t being moved. Many of these \"improvements\" only serve to burden modern computers, so a 3 GHz multiprocessor desktop machine ends up working about as fast as a 1970\'s-era minicomputer or an early 1980\'s IBM PC.

My pointing devices of choice since 1987 have been Itac Systems mouse-trak industrial trackballs. Not cheap, but they eliminate many of the problems of mice.

Facebook User

In terms of creativity, this is an excellent concept. In terms of practicality, this is useless - at least, to high-end users. It is much more resource inefficient, and I highly doubt it can compete with the extreme accuracy a high-grade laser mouse provides - not to mention the 5-7 on-mouse keys which come in quite handy for utilization. Also, ergonomics are actually better with a proper mouse than your hand just lying on the table. That last bit has no proof behind it, just my own opinion.

Facebook User

Now I want this for painting and CG modelling!


Or, just attach the mouse to the head some how. I guess it would be more of a pointer that way. We pretty much follow the cursor anyway. Why not do away with the need to move a mouse. Maybe it follows your head movements or your eyes? I don\'t know how well that works in the real world though. A mouse is that one thing that kind of throws out the flow of things. You\'ve got to remove your hand from the keyboard to move it. Tracking your head/eye movements seems logical.

This idea is probably out there to some degree or another though, with VR stuff.

Troy Honaker

Yes it is really very good work . Hats of to you Pranav Sir. BUr let us know of all these procedure ? So we can also do the same with Our TV. With the help of hand we can change the channels.

vijay solse
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