Touch-sensitive mouse improves 3D computing experience

Paul Boughton
Cambridge Consultants has unveiled the second phase of its innovative Suma-enabled technology. With more internet, computer and gaming-based applications being displayed in 3D, this flexible platform technology is said to offer enhanced functionality for PC peripherals, giving users a 'futuristic level of navigation.' Enabling full analogue control from all fingers and thumb, the latest Suma technology has been developed into an ergonomic 'Suma mouse' concept, showcasing its versatility and ability to unlock the human sense of touch when interacting with next-generation applications.
Unlike a traditional mouse, the Suma mouse concept makes the click, pan, zoom and tilt manoeuvres required when browsing a 3D environment a more intuitive experience. Squeezing, stroking, rotating and pressing the Suma skin translates into individual reactions on the screen.
With everyday applications such as Google Maps and Street View now rendering in three dimensions, there is a growing demand for an interface to exploit their potential. When using a Suma-enabled mouse, there are no set boundaries for how to hold it or where to place your fingers. A 'Suma skin' enabled mouse can recognise how the user is holding it and wherever they have placed their fingers, making it a comfortable and natural process.
While many consumers are now familiar with gesture-based controls and motion feedback, these do not fully exploit the subtlety and flexibility of the human hands' control capabilities to the degree Suma technology can. With this increased versatility, and without the requirement for distinct and separate buttons, the next generation of 3D computer and gaming devices can be much more ergonomic in their design.
Moving on from the squeezable interface unveiled at CES 2010, the new Suma platform can be implemented in any shape, from mouse to joystick, integrating an analogue deformation sensor within the device. The sensor network can be tuned to each application, including resolution, sensitivity and stiffness of the deformable layer and active area. The Suma skin can be integrated at an incremental parts cost of less than US$1, allowing it to be designed into conventional controllers, as opposed to specialist equipment.
Duncan Smith, head of consumer product development at Cambridge Consultants, comments: "Many existing mainstream 2D applications are now rendering in three dimensions, for example Google Street View. Yet despite this rise, consumers have been lacking an interface to elegantly navigate a three dimensional environment. The second concept of Suma is equally applicable to today's technology as it is tomorrow's 3D displays. About one-quarter of the motor cortex of your brain is dedicated to the muscles in your hands. No other technology captures the power of this the way Suma does."
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