An Israeli startup’s 1×1 mm mouse could take a starring role in everything from mobile to medical technology as design goes ever smaller.
“How small can a mouse be?” asks a presentation by Israeli startup MicroPointing. Well, how small does it have to be?
“Small. Really small.” That’s the answer of MicroPointing’s CEO Ailon Tamir. To that end, his company is developing what looks to be the world’s smallest mouse device – as minuscule as one square millimeter.
On the firing line is the common, everyday cell phone mouse – also known as the “four-way rocker,” used to control menus, functions, and other features of mobile phones. What’s wrong with the rocker we have all come to know and love?
“It’s a relic of a bygone era,” Tamir tells ISRAEL21c. “The leading edge of product development is in the device market, with touch screens, miniature keyboards, menu buttons and the like. There is a great deal of competition for space on the device surface, which of course is very limited. And the old-fashioned rocker-style mouse used by most devices today, which measures 35 millimeters squared, just takes up too much room.”
It’s not only Tamir who has noted this trend. “Recently, Jeff Raynor, principal technologist of ST Microelectronics’ imaging division, and inventor of the optical mouse, said at a conference that the four-way rocker was finished, and that the future belonged to smaller, smoother devices – just like the one we have developed,” says Tamir.
Existing mouse devices need to be placed on the center of a surface, allowing users to access it comfortably. Using a combination of advanced software algorithms and innovative design, Tamir’s solution promises to revolutionize the way this device can be deployed.
Mini-mouse for gaming or medical use
The smaller MicroPointing mouse opens a whole new world to designers.
“Take a remote control, one of the popular devices that include mouse buttons for navigation,” Tamir says. “We are used to seeing square or rectangular remote controls, and that is largely due to the need to accommodate the 35mm squared mouse button. But with a tiny mouse, you could design the remote control in so many other ways.”
For example, Tamir says, you could embed a mini-mouse on the surface of something as small as a ring. “A remote on a ring would be far more intuitive to use than current designs. It eliminates the need to designate a flat space for using a mouse because our device can be placed on rounded surfaces as well as very small spaces.”
Applications could range from tiny mouse-controlled medical devices for use inside the body to gaming devices with two micro-mice positioned to let player’s thumbs more easily control the action.
Not only would the mini-mouse let designers run away with their imaginations, it would also free up some cash, since MicroPointing’s device is about a third cheaper than the standard 35mm mouse and consumes far less power. That’s because its patented design allows far more mouse maneuvering in a lot less space.
Tamir, who developed the MicroPointing solution along with company CTO Vladimir Muzykovski, presented the solution at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – to rave reviews.
“Our booth was crowded with industry people who were very interested in working with us,” Tamir says. “Our device costs about a third of the standard 35mm mouse, so manufacturers are naturally interested in it.”
MicroPointing is a part of the Mofet B’Yehuda incubator south of Jerusalem. Right now, the company has three employees. That could change soon, Tamir says, as its first deal is expected within a year.
“We are almost ready to go, and are putting the final touches on our product,” he says. “I keep telling potential customers that now is the time to get on board with us. We have the world’s smallest mouse device, and the patents to back it, and we are much farther ahead in development than any other company. This is the mouse of the future.”