Technologies that should’ve been invented already

After Logitech unveiled its new Mouse range, Gareth van Zyl muses about technologies that haven’t yet been invented

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Technologies that should’ve been invented already Logitech has released two mice that use the new darkfield technology, the full size Performance Mouse MX and the mobile Anywhere Mouse MX.
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By  Gareth Van Zyl Published  September 6, 2009

I recently had the pleasure of being flown over to Logitech’s lab in Switzerland to see the unveiling of what, at the time, was a heavily guarded secret. All that I was told was that myself and a group of other journalists were about to see the unveiling of a new range of computer ‘mice’, relying on what is called Darkfield technology.

On arrival at the Logitech lab, the dark veil, so to speak, was removed; and the new technology from Logitech turned to be a new range of computer mice that work on glass surfaces.

Logitech’s Anywhere Mouse MX and Performance Mouse MX work on clear glass that is at least 4mm thick and on virtually any other surface. Logitech describes the gist of how this tech works as follows, “Just as a scientist would use a dark field microscope in a lab, a Logitech mouse with Darkfield Laser Tracking illuminates the surface beneath the mouse at an angle, and collects and focuses that light back into the lens. Any small particles, such as dust or micro-scratches, are cast against a black background. Similar to the way that our eye sees the clear night sky, the mouse’s sensor sees the clean areas of glass as a dark background with bright dots – the dust. Then, the sensor interprets the movement of these dots to track exactly where you’ve moved the mouse.”

Quite something to achieve, and I’ve been testing out Logitech’s Anywhere Mouse MX for review in WINDOWS magazine. However, I find it interesting that nobody has achieved this engineering feat before. We’ve sent men to the moon, developed super computers, and eliminated the constraints presented by geography, space and time with telecommunication technology, amongst many other incredible developments. And yet, the computer mouse that works on a glass surface has eluded us, until now.

It was this realisation that got me thinking about technologies you’d think would have been invented already. And in an attempt to veer away from the much clichéd (but much desired) wish of flying cars, teleport portals and invisibility cloaks, I started thinking about tech I’d like to see, such as netbooks that have longer lasting batteries.

Acer, for instance, has tried to go some way in achieving this by making their Aspire Timeline series, which they claim has an 8 hour battery life. But I would like to see longer lasting netbooks on the go. Another development I’d like to see would be 3D gaming glasses that don’t make you feel like you’re squinting, which don’t give you a slight headache and which don’t look dorky. We recently reviewed Nvidia and Samsung’s 3D gaming kit, and while the advancements have been huge in the 3D gaming sphere, I still couldn’t help but feel slightly squint after playing it for a while (and slightly dorky).

Something else I would like to see is website development technology that actually requires little configuration and know how on the part of the user. Yes, there’s the likes of Wordpress, Blogger and Google Sites; but I’ve taken a look and used some of these platforms and they still don’t give the user that ultimate level of control in terms design and layout. If you don’t have any web-design skills, you’re stuck with what’s dished to you.

The great thing about technology is that just about anything is possible, and the stuff of thought, dreams or science-fiction can become reality. Just think, if nobody had ever thought of inventing a mouse that works on glass surfaces, then we would still be in that ‘uncomfortable’ situation of dragging a mouse pad along with us everywhere we went. How annoying…

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