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Combimouse founder turns to crowdfunding

Combimouse founder turns to crowdfunding

The Combimouse has been in development for nearly a decade and a half, but it is a relic of a different era or the future of human-machine interaction?

The concept of a combined mouse and keyboard device, cleverly dubbed the Combimouse, has hit crowd-funding site Indiegogo after 14 years of development.

The brainchild of Ari Zagnoev, the Combimouse was invented - and patented, just in case - in 1999, after which followed almost a decade and a half of investigation, revision and development - including a relatively promising report from the Software Usability Research Laboratory of the Wichita State University in 2003. Since then, however, the device has failed to reach the market - something its inventor, after fourteen years of working on the project, is keen to correct with the help of $20,000 of crowd-sourced cash.

The basic concept of the Combimouse is at once simple and bizarre: rather than having a separate keyboard and mouse taking up room on the desk, the Combimouse splits the keyboard in two and uses the right-hand half as an optical mouse. A palm-rest, jutting out from the base of the right-hand section at an angle, forms the handle, and the user moves the entire unit across the desk to control the pointer.

The result, Zagnoev argues, is that the user need not remove his or her hand from the keyboard in order to use the mouse. The experience is the same as using a traditional mouse, claims Zagnoev, while his patented technology prevents the mouse portion from skidding around the desk while you're trying to type.

The Australian-based start-up looking to make Zagnoev his fortune has been working on research and development for the last ten years, developing ways of reducing the weight of the device and adjusting the centre of gravity in order to make it at least as comfortable as a traditional mouse - if not more so. Now, Zagnoev believes he has cracked it - and just needs that last bit of cash to create the first true prototype models.

'Technology is only now available to make it feasible - including thin wall plastics, plastic mould flow analysis software, light weight notebook keyboard technology and ultra low power electronics,' Zagnoev offers by way of explanation for the length of time between his patent application and the product becoming ready for production. 'Overcoming design problems has taken time. Especially making it light and mobile as a mouse AND immobile as a keyboard and at the same time making it manufacturable.'

Like many small start-ups, Zagnoev is turning to crowd-finding for the cash he needs to bring his dream to reality. The $20,000 sought won't go to create a full production run, however: instead, Zagnoev's company is seeking the cash to create final evaluation devices ahead of a full production run. While Indiegogo users can splash out on what appears to be a pre-order for the device, priced at $110, in reality it's no such thing: Zagnoev admits that the device is not quite ready for production yet, and should the evaluation phase throw up last-minute pre-production concerns it's likely that more money will be required before anybody gets their hands on the gadget.

There are other warning signs in the venture, too: images on the site are of an outdated, old-model prototype with only a virtual render provided to illustrate the design of the current prototype - something Kickstarter's rules forbids, explaining Zagnoev's use of the less-popular Indiegogo site. While Zagnoev explains the discrepency away - 'The latest prototype is handmade and crude. It doesn't photograph well. Significant funds are required to clean it up.' - it remains the fact that investors are being asked to part with their cash sight-unseen on a vague promise of a possible future production run.

With the world moving seemingly inexorably towards touch-screen and motion-sensing user interfaces, it remains to be seen if Zagnoev will ever see his dream brought to fruition or whether it has been left too late for a concept dreamt up to improve the usability of pre-millennial computing devices.

More details are available on the project's Indiegogo page, while a video demonstrating how to use the earlier prototype version is reproduced below.

12 Comments

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mi1ez 18th April 2013, 10:34 Quote
Looks terrible...
Yslen 18th April 2013, 10:41 Quote
I personally don't have a need to use a mouse and a keyboard (with both hands) at the same time. Can't imagine many people do who, as OS's aren't designed to require it.

So this is just for people who can't be bothered to move their hand over to their mouse?

The way this world is going, they'll probably sell millions.

/oldmangrumble
Yslen 18th April 2013, 10:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yslen
I personally don't have a need to use a mouse and a keyboard (with both hands) at the same time. Can't imagine many people do who, as OS's aren't designed to require it.

So this is just for people who can't be bothered to move their hand over to their mouse?

The way this world is going, they'll probably sell millions.

/oldmangrumble

The thing is, in the video it doesn't look any faster or easier than using a regular mouse and keyboard... except that the split keyboard with TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF KEYS is going to be a royal pain in the arse to learn. Apparently I'm annoyed enough about this to argue with myself.
monkiboi 18th April 2013, 10:49 Quote
faugusztin 18th April 2013, 10:53 Quote
@monkiboi: more like :
http://m.cdn.blog.hu/su/subba/file/bamm.gif

as :( is not enough.
fodder 18th April 2013, 11:07 Quote
From an ergonomics point of view, this is terrible. Long hours of mouse use is bad enough as it is, take away the movement of keyboard/mouse swapping and the involved musculature will become ischaemic far quicker. Oh, and with the dawn of motion detection and touch interfaces this is a dead parrot.
sotu1 18th April 2013, 14:21 Quote
I actually like this, and want it. But $110 is too much to stomach. I spend a lot of time work wise using excel and other keyboard/mouse heavy programs and this makes sense.
eVoPhantom 18th April 2013, 14:55 Quote
Looking for a solution to a problem that does not exsist.
schmidtbag 18th April 2013, 14:55 Quote
Being slightly ambidexterous, something like this would only slow me down. My left hand is a more skilled typist than my right (but my right hand is better with a mouse), and I use spacebar with my left hand too. This is the same reason why I don't like mice containing more than 5 buttons - I perform better when my hands are distributed evenly.

Anyways, suppose this mouse were to biologically fit me - what exactly would I be doing with my other hand? Hold coffee with it? I figure this device would take a little too much concentration to effectively use another hand for something else, though, I do realize this device has more benefits other than multitasking.

I do appreciate the effort of people trying to evolve input devices. I think it's strange how the keyboard and mouse are as long-lived as they are (touch screens are almost equally as old), but I guess it really comes down to affordability, efficiency, practicality, and usage.
Stanley Tweedle 18th April 2013, 22:13 Quote
The combimouse is a blatant ripoff of my own invention - mouseputer. Think of a mouse with an integrated keyboard and a 12 inch full colour VGA display capable of 800 x 600. Should be able to raise the £1 Million needed via kickstarter.
SAimNE 19th April 2013, 01:52 Quote
... i've actually already got a profile connected to my razer naga and nostromo that gives me access to all the normal keys needed for typing... i cant really use quotes or question marks or anything, but i can already type with my mouse... and one that doesnt look quite so retarded.... plus if i had the orbweaver instead of nostromo i would have room to spare. i declare this as unneeded :P
Sloth 19th April 2013, 19:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yslen
The thing is, in the video it doesn't look any faster or easier than using a regular mouse and keyboard... except that the split keyboard with TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF KEYS is going to be a royal pain in the arse to learn. Apparently I'm annoyed enough about this to argue with myself.
If you check out the study linked in the article it was shown to be equivalent to a standard mouse in pointing speed, and slower than a standard keyboard in typing speeds. The reviewers even admitted they would need to practice to type faster. Doesn't seem worth buying a new device to put in that practice to reach speeds you'd already had.
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