Touchy-feely mouse heralds new era on the Net

Using the Net could soon become a real touchy-feely experience with the new "Feel It" mouse launched by Immersion at the Web99 conference in San Francisco last week.

The mouse uses force-feedback technology to provide surfers with a tactile impression of what they are viewing. Immersion claims it can simulate the texture of even the most delicate materials. The technology, developed by Standford University and NASA, is already used in gaming consoles and joysticks.

Online shopping could benefit significantly from the new mouse, enabling shoppers to "touch" something before they buy it, but theoretically the uses are endless.