Just Thinking Aloud

There are times when I look at the design of an object and wonder at its balance between complexity and simplicity. I try to think about all the decisions that went into creating this object, and what aspects of the design were able to overcome constraints, and which ones were hindered.

Microsoft Hardware long ago bid adieu to boring beige. A new mouse conceived by the cutting-edge European designer Philippe Starck is the centerpiece of the latest collection of input devices Microsoft design executives unveiled today. (Source via User Instinct)

Take this mouse for example…

Microsoft Optical Mouse designed by S+ARCK.

It looks nice. At first I thought, “Wow, that’s cool!” But then I spent the next 10 seconds lowering my initial perspective to just “nice.” It’s a mouse. Woo.

I don’t think there is anything special about the design at all. In fact it looks a lot like the COMPAQ mouse I use at work. Except for the blue (you can also get orange) light strip down the middle. Woo.

So, after I overcame my overcomeness, I started thinking about how I would use this mouse. Now, my understanding is limited to the angle of the picture shown here. I can only guess that the elongated oval along the bottom edge is the button. I assume that, because this is a Microsoft® mouse, it has two buttons. And I further assume that there is a button on the other side of the mouse in the same place.

This is what I find odd. Put your hand on your mouse. Pretend (unless you have a mouse like this) that there is a button along the bottom-side edge. Press it with your thumb. If you are like me, which I grant few people are not and are happier for it, your thumb presses into the mouse, and your mouse presses into your finger that is hanging over the other side of the mouse. For me it is my ring finger. What I imagine here is that, if I were pressing the button with my thumb, I might also be pressing the button on the other side with my ring finger. That doesn’t seem helpful.

I readily admit that I don’t know what the other side of the mouse looks like. I admit that they product designers that molded Starcks conceptual design into reality may have thought of this problem and done something to avoid it. It’s part of the problem with inferring from a 2-dimensional image what may or may not be.

Another ready admission: I don’t have a point. This is just part of my thought process when I look upon a “centerpiece” input device.

4 replies on “Just Thinking Aloud”

  1. That mouse sort of has a sneaker/athletic shoe look to me, at least on first glance.

    I agree with you, having buttons on the side of the mouse doesn’t seem like the best setup.

  2. My wife wonders if it works like the Apple mouses, where you just apply pressure to the side of the mouse you want to click, but it’s pressure from the top, not sides.

  3. Your blog made me look at that picture for a long time (well, relatively speaking, anyway). I even found a high res photo on Microsoft’s site… I think your wife is correct. The Apple mouse also has a fixed point on the side that looks a lot like the “button” on the MS mouse. It looks like the designer took the minimalist Apple design and split it in two.

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