News: Haptic Hacking Breathes New Life into Old Computer Mice

Haptic Hacking Breathes New Life into Old Computer Mice

You've seen the felt mouse, which made computer clicking comfortable and chic, now brace yourself for something a little more interactive—DataBot.

DataBot hails from the clever minds of Jan Barth and Roman Grasy, two Interaction Design students based in Germany who wanted to create an entirely different way to understand computer data, other than visual representations. Instead of just looking at your files and folders, their DataBot Mouse assigns physical properties to the data and interacts with you through haptic technology—touching your senses.

Developed with Arduino and VVVV, the prototype consists of a small servo-motor inside an optical mouse, which brakes the little ball. It communicates three different data properties to the user.

Haptic Hacking Breathes New Life into Old Computer Mice

It can show the weight of files and folders by braking with different force, according to file size. You can set a custom weight for files and folders so you can find important data more easily, just like the color-marking function in Mac OS X. And you can see the activity of your files and folders—showing how many times a file was opened or how busy a folder has been recently—by "breathing" with different intervals.

All settings are customizable, so you can fit it to your individual needs.

And it doesn't stop with computer mice. They've also developed a family of DataBot Hard Drives. The basic construction of one of the hard drives consists of a 3D-printed case, a servo-motor and some red and blue LEDs.

Haptic Hacking Breathes New Life into Old Computer Mice

The hard drive grows or shrinks based on how much space is used, compared to the total amount available. Just by looking at it, you can always see its current fill level. During file transmissions, it visualizes the progress with a blinking blue light, decreasing speed until the transmission is complete. And if an error occurs, the hard drive will shake and flash red lights.

With DataBot, Barth and Grasy hope to make the communication/interaction between man and data more human and easier to understand.

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