Logitech mouse: iFeel your pane

New input devices help users to 'feel' Windows desktops. Can a mouse that smells be far behind?

Logitech on Monday announced the latest additions to its line of optical computer mice: the iFeel MouseMan and the iFeel Mouse.

So-called feedback mice are the latest efforts by Logitech (LOGIY) -- and the input device industry -- to enhance the experience of using a PC and the Internet.

When a cursor is dragged across an icon, menu, tool bar or hyperlink, for example, vibrations from the mouse will give users the sensation they are feeling their way across a screen.

Optical mice, the current rage in input devices from Microsoft Corp (msft), Belkin, Apple Computer Inc. (aapl) and Kensington Technology Group, provide more precision and speed than a conventional roller-ball mouse.

"This was the next logical step because adding the sense of touch increases the level of communications between users and their PCs," said Jan Edbrooke, director of product marketing at Logitech.

The new mice are bound to have a big audience with gamers, he said. But Edbrooke also believes mainstream uses -- allowing online shoppers to experience the feel of a fabric, for example -- will help the devices take off.

So far, there aren't many applications that use all the features of iFeel mice. But Edbrooke said the devices will have plenty of features out of the box that will appeal to mainstream consumers. And Logitech believes developers will jump on board very quickly.

The new iFeel devices will cost only $10 more than the non-feedback mice that are currently among the company's most popular products, officials said.

The iFeel MouseMan and the iFeel Mouse will be available in late September for $59.95 and $39.95 respectively. The iFeel Mouse, designed for right- or left- handed users, will have three buttons. The MouseMan has a fourth button for right-handed users.

Smell will be next sensory innovation for input devices: DigiScents' iSmell device is expected to be available by the end of the year for between $80 to $150.


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