Microsoft Touch Mouse: the history and hands-on

Let's be clear about something: Microsoft's Touch Mouse isn't just another one of Redmond's interesting looking computer peripherals, it's the result of one of the company's well-known research projects. There are lots of concept mice that Microsoft has been toying around with in its labs (one even has a webcam inside), but the Touch Mouse is specifically based on one called the "Cap." Led by Hrvoje Benko, the aim was to put advanced touch capabilities into a mouse that wouldn't require users to adjust their usual pointing and clicking habits. And that's exactly what the $80 Touch Mouse does -- from afar it looks like any old wireless mouse and you can right and left click with no issue, but up close the area covered with small Xs is actually made of a matrix of capacitive touch electrodes.

We caught some time with Benko this afternoon and he spilled all about the mouse and also gave us a lengthy lesson on the touch and gesture capabilities. We have to say there are lots of gestures, and if you're coming from using Apple's Magic Mouse or touchpads it could be a bit confusing, but there are some very unique shortcuts, including the ability to just swipe a thumb to move you backwards and forwards and minimize windows by swiping two fingers down. As for the actual hardware, it really feels like any other mouse, but we do have to say that the smooth plastic coating feels very nice on the fingers. We could go on and on, or we could just show you how it's all done in the video below. Oh, and also don't forget to check out some pictures of the original Cap mouse in the gallery below.