3D Mouse Design


3D Connexion, manufacturer of the Space Pilot and Space Navigator 3D mice, launched the ‘3D Mouse of the Future’ challenge last year; designers were asked to submit ideas on how the mouse could be improved upon. There were some nice prizes on offer, but I was more interested in coming up with a cool idea…of course.

The core element of the 3D mouse, the controller cap, had to be a part of the design (it would have been anyway for me as it works so well) but everything else was fair game. I decided against doing something purely conceptual (ie. Something that would require huge advances in technology to be feasible) instead aiming to come up with ideas that could be implemented using existing technology.

The idea I came up with was to have a rotary contextual touch-screen attached to the base for additional functionality. The screen would rotate around the base of the mouse to ‘lock’ into 1 of 8 positions, each position would then have a different set of options assigned to it by the user that would appear when the screen was in position. So if you were working in Max you could have one position with a set of hotkeys for modelling, then another position with a set for animation, another position with a set for rendering, or a set for particles, or lighting, or whatever. Alternatively you could have one position set for Max hotkeys, another for After Effects, another for Premiere with tabbed sub-sets on each screen. Other options for screen types were things like the tweak screen (where you could make extremely fine adjustments to selections or slowly scrub through timelines etc.), the gesture screen (for gesture based controls – although of course the software would need to support that feature) and media controls / notifications etc.

When the screen was rotated around to be directly towards the user it would be ‘docked’ under an integral wrist rest. When docked into this position the screen could either switch into a low power mode or display a customisable set of notifications or program quick launches that would be viewable through the cutaway section in the wrist rest.

All of this would be driven by a piece of software that would give users the ability to completely customise the positioning, layout, style and content of the screens. You could either choose from a set of pre-defined screen styles or come up with something completely bespoke.

Below are the renders I did for how it might look. Nice idea I thought…good job I wasn’t bothered about those prizes too as I didn’t win anything!