Apple Lands Ambidextrous Mouse Patent

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Apple is showing a little love for lefties with a new patent that details an ambidextrous mouse. The pointing device is capable of determining if it’s in your left or right hand, and adjusts its controls accordingly.

The patent, which was filed in 2003, describes a system where users spin the mouse around to change which hand they hold it in. Built-in sensors help determine which hand the mouse is in, too.

Apple’s ambidextrous mouse patent

“The user may change the handedness of the mouse by rotating the mouse about a vertical axis of the mouse such that the left hand can use the left hand buttons and the right hand can use the right hand buttons,” the patent filing explains.

The patent also claims the mouse would be able to distinguish between different sized hands and automatically adjust its sensitivity, and it can even be used to identify who is holding the mouse based on how they are touching the device.

Apple already offers an ambidextrous mouse of sorts in the form of the Magic Mouse. A mouse that auto-configures button positions based on which hand is touching the device, however, would eliminate the need to manually change settings in the System Preferences application.

[Thanks to 9 to 5 Mac for the heads up.]

Comments

JonGl

I still don’t get this “left-handedness” for mice. I guess I could see it, if mice were so precise you could actually draw with them, but as a left-hander, I much prefer keeping my mouse in my right hand. It is not infrequent that I need to use my mouse while also manipulating a pen (comparing a printout to what’s on screen, is my normal context), and if I had to constantly switch between pen and mouse, it would drive me crazy. Plus, since I like to keep what hard copy I’m transcribing from or reading or using, on my left hand side, if I were to use a mouse left-handed, it would be awkward for me. And yes, I date from the days of typewriters, and then single-button, ambidextrous Apple mice, when I _could_ have used a mouse left-handed. In fact, I tried it, but I immediately saw the disadvantages of that arrangement, and moved my mouse to my right hand (this was 1987, and, in fact, my friend arranged the Mac for me, as a leftie—I hated it!). In fact, I’ve never understood why _right-handed_ people don’t want to use their mouse with their left hand!!! I would encourage the righties here to try it for a week or three, and see if you don’t prefer it. wink

-Jon

geoduck

I much prefer keeping my mouse in my right hand.

That’s the way I use it as well. Part of it is that I do tech support so that’s the way most of the workstations are set up. Even at home though I keep the mouse on the right side. It keeps my ‘good’ hand free for precise work. My wife does too (we’re both left handed).

Lee Dronick

but as a left-hander, I much prefer keeping my mouse in my right hand. It is not infrequent that I need to use my mouse while also manipulating a pen (comparing a printout to what?s on screen, is my normal context), and if I had to constantly switch between pen and mouse

I too am left handed, but mouse with my north paw. I paint and draw on “paper”  with my left hand, but when comes to doing vector art in Illustrator I have to do it right handed. Maybe it comes out of when I first started doing mechanical drawing and learned to handle rules, protractors and such with my right hand. Of course other people have different ways of doing things so having a left handed mouse is maybe what they need.

Lee Dronick

So Geoduck, JonGI. and I are left handed. It would be an interesting poll to see how many of us MacObserver regulars are left handed.

geoduck
JonGl

So Geoduck, JonGI. and I are left handed. It would be an interesting poll to see how many of us MacObserver regulars are left handed.

I would surmise that a higher percentage than the “normal” population. Creative types tend to the Mac, and since that facility also tends to be linked to handedness, I would guess that this poll will reaffirm that. wink But we’ll see…

-Jon

Jeff Gamet

I’m a lefty, too, and I always mouse with my left hand. My right hand coordination is so bad that I simply can’t mouse right handed. I do, however, rely heavily on keyboard shortcuts, so I minimize how much time my hand leaves my keyboard.

brett_x

I am a righty, but forced myself into using the mouse on the left about 3 years ago. This was mostly due to wrist pain. I still use it on the right at home, but on the left at work. This provides the balance that I needed.

But ever since I switched, I have found benefits to having my right hand on the keyboard. The Enter and Return keys, the number pad, Home/Page Up/Page Down etc keys, arrow keys and F12 for occasional dashboard use are all way more convenient.
I realize we’re talking about a 1/4 second to put a hand back on the keyboard, but I notice the difference when I go back to right-handed mouse setup.

Lee Dronick

I would surmise that a higher percentage than the ?normal? population. Creative types tend to the Mac, and since that facility also tends to be linked to handedness,

I noticed that every time I take an art or design class at the Community College that there is larger percentage of left handers in the class than is in the general population. Maybe it is the right brain thing.

Renzo

Like two or three percent of people, I am ambidextrous and in my late teens I found that both sides of my brain could work in “apparent parallel way” (work on two things at the same time). I have found only one more like me. it is not all good: forget about sense of rhythm or convincing someone that you pay full attention to them. I tend to use a mouse with my left hand for pointing at things very quickly and one on my right side to make decisions. my recent system (Dual Power PC) used a cheap cordless mouse on the left and a mighty mouse on the right. I am moving to a new recent Intel 2x4 cores and I get a magic mouse in the package. That one is great for navigating but the mighty mouse has a lot more buttons options. Both mice being bluetooth, there seem to be a conflict. I can set up the magic mouse natively and the mighty mouse by installing the software. As soon as I reboot, there is a confusion usually resulting in the magic mouse taking full control. I still can reactivate the mighty mouse in the bluetooth panel and be happy again. Apple has given up settling the conflict for me. I wonder if having two ambidextrous mice would ease my problem. There is a significant gain of time pointing at something and clicking within a few hundredth of a second because you are already waiting for the left hand click and switching from deciding where to change things and what to change (also a lot less stress for me). Not common, but quite uncomfortable to change.

redcorvette

I would encourage the righties here to try it for a week or three, and see if you don?t prefer it.

Thanks for the suggestion.  It makes a lot os sense to me for the reasons described and as a rightie I will give it a try.

xmattingly

I’m cross-dominant. Though, I have to point out that with touch devices like the Magic Trackpad, there is no such thing as a “left or right-handed” version. wink

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