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Input Devices Hardware

New Logitech Dark Field Mice Operate On Glass 225

Slatterz writes "Logitech has introduced new mice that use two lasers rather than one to work on a variety of previously unusable surfaces. The first laser picks out imperfections in the surface of a tabletop while the second laser focuses on microscopic imperfections highlighted and uses those to direct the cursor. The technique, dubbed dark field microscopy, allows mice to be used on almost any surface, including glass (as long as it is more than 4mm thick)."
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New Logitech Dark Field Mice Operate On Glass

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  • by ruinevil ( 852677 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:18PM (#29152361)
    It can also detect the spirochetes that cause syphillis, Treponema palladium.
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:23PM (#29152411)

    This is pretty much the selling point for Microsoft's BlueTrack [] (video at Amazon []) as well. Theirs appears to be based on a blue LED and some optics picking up / processing the scattering, rather than dual lasers, but since they're more or less aimed at the same problem and claim similar success, I'd be curious how they compare.

  • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:45PM (#29152561)

    Sorry, but no ball mouse worked on my carpet for very long before being strangled, but the optical ones have no issue...

  • by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:58PM (#29152621)

    And people wonder why i still have a ball mouse. Periodically I find it useful to have something that works even on dirty windows.

  • by jarocho ( 1617799 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @09:20PM (#29152737)
    Analysts keep suggesting that the mouse is nearing obsolescence [], and that in less than five years, it'll look about as natural in your hand as a buggy whip. However, I remain unconvinced.

    That said, if and when Toyota or anybody else figures out how to port their brain-controlled wheelchair tech [] to the PC, the mouse may indeed become one of those things your future grandkids will see in photos and ask, "Did you really ever use one of those things?! It's so weird looking!!!"

    Until then, a laser mouse that can be used on transparent glass surfaces still has a certain wow factor.
  • Cool and Bummer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @12:03AM (#29153449) Homepage

    I hope it does not reduce the number of plain old LED optical mice out there because those are a GREAT source for machine vision for robotics. the basic 32X32 pixel cameras in a mouse works GREAT for a small robot for machine vision.

    I even have an arduino bot using one to avoid objects.

  • by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @12:53AM (#29153609)
    that being said, the tactile response of using a mouse on surfaces other than a cloth mouse pad always feel 'wrong' somehow to me.
    call me old fashioned, but i just prefer the way a mouse moves on a mouse pad vs. the surface of my desk, a textbook, a sheet of paper, or the top of a pizza box.
    in fact, i find that the cheep, blank, generic cloth mouse pads they sell in my local wannabe-walmart do just the trick. fancy shmancy double laser dark field gyro stabilized nuclear sub-harmonic mouses be damned.
  • by WidgetGuy ( 1233314 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:10AM (#29153643)
    I've been using optical trackballs ever since they came on the market. All of my computers are currently outfitted with the Microsoft optical trackball (I know it's hard to believe given the brand, but it is really quite well-designed and built). A trackball is especially useful with my laptop. The total amount of space taken up by the device is fixed (the device's size). No extra room is needed since it doesn't need to be moved like a mouse. They work on any surface they can be placed on, rough or smooth. No mouse pad required. They can be used in any orientation (upside down, on a 90-degree angle to the surface on which the computer is sitting -- you name it). No lasers, just LEDs (two). My trackballs range in age from six years to ten years. They work as well now as when they were brand new.

    Fortunately, Microsoft isn't the only company selling an outboard optical trackball these days. Logitech makes a very nice optical trackball (Trackman Wheel Optical) with the same ergonomic properties as the Microsoft product. The Logitech product has the added benefits of being slightly smaller and way less expensive than the Micrsoft unit. Amazon is currently selling them for $24 ($45 for the cordless version at TigerDirect). It gets excellent customer ratings everywhere it's sold.

    Unfortunately, the price of the Microsoft optical trackball has gone through the roof since I bought my last one. Amazon's price for new units is $199.99!! I paid $39.99 each for mine many years ago, brand new, at CompUSA (not on sale)! And, back then, there wasn't any quality competition. If that were still the case, I'd reluctantly spend $200 if one of mine broke down. They really are worth it. But, since there is now a quality alternative, and since I need a new trackball for my new desktop, I just ordered a Logitech Trackman Wheel Optical from Amazon.

    I could never go back to using a mouse. Never.
  • Re:Trackball (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:55AM (#29153777) Homepage

    Not all trackballs are tailored to using them with a thumb, look up "Logitech Marble Mouse". It's quite different...I hate thumb-operated trackballs, but love this one.

    Now, if only Logitech somehow integrated proper scrollwheel into it... (or one day I will find that old MS one somehow similar to Marble Mouse, as far as which fingers you use)

  • by chromas ( 1085949 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @02:25AM (#29153895)
    1. Electric toothbrush
    2. Straight razor
    3. Duct tape
  • by Blue Shifted ( 1078715 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @03:03AM (#29154035) Journal

    some retail stores would setup their demo PCs on white shiny enamel coated shelves, with no mouse pads. there would be a row of people trying to play with these display units, while being frustrated by the mice not working.

  • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fizzl ( 209397 ) <<ten.lzzif> <ta> <lzzif>> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @04:01AM (#29154203) Homepage Journal

    Actually, I think glass-top tables were big in 80's. Then they were deemed tasteless. And now they are hip and new again!

  • Re:Cool and Bummer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @04:39AM (#29154279)

    Got any links to projects that use those? I'll almost certainly never get around to it but it would still be fun to read about others doing it

  • by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @06:28AM (#29154543)

    Either the wires are broken or there is a small piece of hair lodged in the hole with the laser and optical sensor. If the reflecting hair moves around the "camera" will try and track the movement. Mouse pads are brilliant in gathering dust and particles, which is the reason I don't use them any more, I'm using a very smooth desktop instead.

    On a more humorous note: especially small curly types of hair seem to be good at lodging themselves in, so this may also be a good indicator of a specific type of internet usage.

  • Re:Trackball (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @06:46AM (#29154593)
    I didn't realize that some people use their arm for aiming a mouse. When I play FPS, my hand is resting on the mousepad, completely surrounding the mouse. There is no way I am aiming using my arm. All the aiming is done through precise movements of my fingers. The great thing is that everything is resting, it's just slight side-to-side motions with my thumb on the left side and pinky+ring finger along the right side for those precision movements. I used to use a trackball. I stopped a while back because the mechanical ones would slip too much, and the optical ones couldn't track fast enough. I now believe that mice are more accurate, simply because it's much harder to make precise movements with one finger (or thumb) that has to constantly hold a ball in place versus only having to expend energy while moving a standard mouse, and letting gravity do most of the work after that. In case you're interested, my current favorite mouse is a razer deathadder, primarily because the shape is perfect for my hand, and the sensor never messes up for me.
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:00AM (#29154773)

    While it is easy to say "Oh just get a surface the mouse works on," well that kinda ignores the point of an optical mouse. One of the major reasons to want them is that you don't need a dedicated mouse pad. You just drop them on a table and they work. However, you discover that isn't the case on some surfaces, and it isn't always predictable. Some surfaces that look smooth to you may have plenty of imperfections for it to track. Other that are "less perfect" can in fact be unusable because their patterns are highly regular.

    Also what people need to remember is that just because a mouse works on a surface, doesn't mean it is working as well as it could. You can find surfaces where the mouse is usable, but when you compare it with a more irregular surface, you find that it wasn't tracking well. The more precise the tracking, the less likely that will be a problem.

    So having a mouse that relies on smaller and smaller imperfections is nice because that means it'll track on more surfaces. Is it a must have? No, but it is convenient. Some people want high quality, and are willing to pay for it. This is a product for them.

  • If you find they work for you, great, but there's a reason that most people use mice, and why laptops no longer have trackballs on them... it seems that most people just aren't comfortable using them. I've tried, I've had several trackballs, and while they work great for very small precise movements or for massive spin-the-ball videogame action they're just too hard for me to drive the mouse 500 pixels over and click on a word in a document.

    On the other hand carrying a thin mousepad between the screen and keyboard of a closed laptop so it's always there and convenient to use is a hell of a lot cheaper than a dark field mouse.

  • Re:Come on... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maharb ( 1534501 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:35AM (#29155031)

    When you use the same mouse for 7+ years I think its a worthwhile investment. It's one of few pieces of hardware that can travel through endless computer upgrades. It's also the most precision based input device. I believe that it is very worthwhile to buy the best mouse you can then use the hell out of it. You are going to be touching it every day and if it has any imperfections you are going to be pissed every day.

    I have the G5 and have been using it for around 6 years. For less than $10 a year I got an awesome mouse.

    I of course am assuming this is a great mouse. This is more a general statement than related to this specific mouse because I have never used it and don't know if it is amazing.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.