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back to article Wi-Fi desk rodents break free from oppressive cabling

A reference design for a wireless mouse has received Wi-Fi Direct certification, making it the first rodent to achieve such fame, though not, perhaps, the very first to ditch the wire. The design comes from Ozmo, a company which has spent the last four years burning through $40m in VC cash trying to prove that Wi-Fi can do …

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Meh

How soon

will it be before Apple claim to have a patent on the technology?

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Anonymous Coward

Given their track record

About 15 years from now, after it's been through the industry once before anyway...

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Devil

Disagree

Sorry, but I must disagree with you, most laptop/net-book users typically purchase their systems at stores such as Wal-Mart, BestBuy and such.

Have you seen the specs on these machines, they are very cheap and to cut costs, the systems have been stripped down to the very basics.

No Bluetooth, very rudimentary display, small memory, slow cpu and the cheapest hard drive possible.

I can see a very large market to these machines, if they can sell these mice at a reasonable cost.

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Thumb Down

And at those same stores...

you can already get an off-brand wireless mouse for around $15, or a name brand one for around $20. So Ozmo (NOT a recognizable name brand) would have to price their mouse at or less than $15 -- most likely selling it at a loss.

The name brands would have to see a demand for the technology before they invest in a new answer to a problem that's already been solved.

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Boffin

And those off-brand wireless mice...

all require a fugly USB dongle poking out the side.

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry, mate,

but if you do have to use a mouse with your laptop (I wonder where you can find one without a touchpad these days) it is very likely you'll be sitting at some form of table or desk so that little USB dongle you're speaking of will not make any difference. Oh, and the price for a second-hand USB mouse is somewhere around 5CAD in this part of the planet so why bother ?

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Silver badge

Ermmm

TV's and Set-boxes are arguably better using IR than BT.

A mouse is better on a cable if you are forgetful of having spare batteries, charging etc.

how likely is it that these WiFi mouse work with your existing arbitrary OS and WiFi stack that's in infrastructure mode with an Airpoint?

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Happy

Modern Times

"A mouse is better on a cable if you are forgetful of having spare batteries, charging etc."

I use my wireless mouse (Logitech M505) for hours every day, and have had to change the batteries (2AA) exactly 0 times in the past year. My wife has had hers for about a year longer than I've had mine, and she's had to change the batteries once.

It's amazing what they can do with power-saving tech nowadays.

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Vic
Silver badge

> have had to change the batteries (2AA) exactly 0 times in the past year

IME, alkaline cells last a good while. NiMH fail quite quickly. That 0.3V per cell is significant...

Vic.

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@Steve Knox

Indeed - I think it's damn near impossible not to have a pair of AA batteries knocking around the house, even if you borrow them out of a lesser-used device as a short-term solution. AAs are ubiquitous around this house anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

You missed a fundamental point

IR takes exactly 'bugger all' watts of power to use. You're powering- in a complicated remote- a small microcontroller (potentially drawing nanoamps when not in use and microamps when you hit a button), and then using it to drive a low-brightness, low-frequency LED on and off. And that's if you want a complicated IRDA one like Sky.

With Bluetooth you're constantly powering a radio device to maintain communications and stop it de-pairing. You need security. You need more power to transmit it.

And even worse, it's not directional and can be blocked out by the neighbour's WiFi network(s).

The best solution? Start installing IRDA in smartphones again. It takes bugger all space, bugger all power, can be hidden behind the ubiquitous black plastic fascia of a modern phone without functional detriment, can operate both analogue and IRDA receivers, and is ultra-secure; to stop someone eavesdropping on your conversation, you can just cup your hands around your phone. In fact the only commonly-used thing it can't do as well as Bluetooth is headphones or in-car links. One can be sorted by using a wire and not looking like a berk, the other can be sorted by just putting your phone in a holder.

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My Bluetoooth mouse (Kesa Electricals) goes for several weeks on a couple of long-life NiMH AA rechargeables, and I have spare batteries to swap in. But it does go to sleep - sensibly - after a minute or two idle, and needs to be prodded to work again, after a few seconds. It also occasionally loses contact, and usually restores itself in about 10 seconds, but sometimes "needs" to be switched off and on to work again. And I'm using it ON the underside of the laptop. Bluetooth is kinda flaky, or Bluetooth plus 802.11 is, because don't they share the 29/12/20112.4 GHz space (badly)? - that's in the U.K.

On the other hand, there was the fellow who bought a dongle wireless keyboard, and so did his neighbour, and what do you suppose happened...

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Bronze badge

If it's as tempremental as bluetooth then forget it

In my experience bluetooth mice and keyboards constant require reparing to make them work, they also suck batteries.

Wireless mice and keyboards can be bought now that operate on 2.4GHz so they work from a decent range

they require no setup you just plug in the dongle and you're off

One dongle supports a keyboard and mouse

the dongles are tiny, they can be left connected to a laptop full time without fear of damaging the USB port

most importantly batteries will last a couple of years in a keyboard and over a year in a mouse. Bluetooth is good for handsfree in the car, that's the market these people should be aiming for.

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Silver badge

I don't know what crap you have been using but I have a Logitech Bluetooth mouse and keyboard that has never required repair-ing.

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WTF?

If it wants to better bluetooth then it needs to use far less power, not at equivalent amount. Bluetooth is a real drain on batteries for uses like keyboards and mice, a proprietery 2.4Ghz 'cordless' keyboard can get a couple of years from a couple of AA batteries, a bluetooth device can hardly manage a couple of months and usually much less.

As for replacing IR with bluetooth ... why? IR works very well and it's much lower power. I wouldn't want to be replacing batteries in my remote controls every week and I doubt I'm alone.

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Mushroom

Why?

Why indeed!

The ability to be able to change the channel, or turn the volume up or down without the limit of line-of-sight to the receiver is nothing but a WIN situation.

Say for example your in the kitchen preparing a meal and don't feel like listening to the crap Justin Bieber the daughter has decided to start playing in the living room. A press of a button, even though you can't see the home entertainment center, and you got some Enya or Kenny-G blasting at full volume, just to give the tween a reminder who is in charge. (Even though it hurts your ears too)

*Nuke Bieber from orbit, it's the only way to be sure!

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Anonymous Coward

@Robert Heffernan - If your daughter started that JB crap

it means to me she has the remote so you'll have to hunt for her in the whole house (remember, it's no more line of sight!) and get it back. Don't tell me you actually have more than one remote for the same audio system thus being open to all sort of pranks.

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Well..

It's funny because my own personal system is mostly controlled via WiFi.

My home theater system is a Windows 7 box running Windows Media Center plus some custom plugins, on a 55" 1080P HDTV with a 5.1 surround system.

The whole thing is Ethernet connected and I can control the whole shebang from a keyboard/mouse on the top of the TV unit (the TV itself is wall mounted with the cables embedded in the wall), from my Android mobile via WiFi, from my iPad via WiFi, from any laptop in the house, from my desktop PC, from a private web server which I can access via the internet, and from the Logitech Harmony IR remote which incidentally never gets used because the line-of-sight is just too damned inconvenient.

As for Bieber, there is no chance in hell of that making it's way into my file server. And sure the pranks are possible but almost never happen.

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Boffin

Wi-Fi Direct seems to be...

...a "direct" flight around sensible security measures.

I am not sure that expanding the Wi-Fi protocols to allow Wi-Fi devices to connect to each other willy-nilly is the way to go.

Wi-Fi Protected Setup is a case in point: Although the protocol was designed to make it easy for the layperson to attach his/her Wi-Fi enabled computer to his/her wireless router, weaknesses in the protocol allow for efficient brute-force attacks against association PINs. Specifically, many Wi-Fi routers that use the PIN method for device association reply with an EAP-NACK message that lets an eavesdropper know if the first four digits of the 8-digit PIN are correct. Also, the last digit of the PIN is used as a checksum.

This results in an effective reduction of complexity of the PIN:

-- -- from 10^8 (100,000,000 uniques)

-- -- to 10^4 + 10^3 (11,000 uniques)

A US-CERT notification on the Wi-Fi Protected Setup vulnerability can be found here:

-- -- US Cert: Vulnerability Note VU#723755

-- -- -- -- http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/723755

and a more in-depth technical description can be found here (PDF):

-- -- Stefan Viehböck: Brute forcing Wi-Fi Protected Setup

-- -- -- -- http://sviehb.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/viehboeck_wps.pdf

I'm all for technology that makes it easier for users to manage their devices, but wireless interface and device association protocol designers need to spend more effort to make sure that their implementations are secure and don't take unnecessary shortcuts to accomplish that goal.

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Boffin

How the "10^4 + 10^3" calculation works

As a matter of clarification, here's a (very simplistic) visualisation of how researchers arrived at the "10^4 + 10^3 = 11,000 uniques" figure:

First off, you send PIN association packets to the Wi-Fi router, starting with

-- -- "0000 0000" (space added between quads for clarity)

and increment the upper quad by one, like so:

-- -- "0000 0000"

-- -- "0001 0000"

-- -- "0002 0000"

-- -- "0003 0000"

Each time the "probe PIN" is sent, the router replies with a message that tells the device if the upper quad (the first four digits) is incorrect. Since the upper quad is four digits long, you only need to send at most ten thousand (10^4) "probe PINs" -- from "0000 0000" to "9999 0000" to determine what the first four digits of the real PIN actually are.

For purposes of this discussion, we will say the correct upper quad is "4976." This presumably took us 4,977 guesses, if we started at "0000 0000," and tested the upper quad sequentially.

Once you know the first four digits, you only need to guess the first three digits of the lower quad -- from "000" to "999," or one thousand (10^3) combinations -- to find the rest of the PIN. The last digit is deterministic, since it's calculated mathematically from the first seven digits, and used as a checksum:

-- -- "4976 000[checksum]"

-- -- "4976 001[checksum]"

-- -- "4976 002[checksum]"

-- -- "4976 003[checksum]"

Again, for purposes of discussion, we'll presume that the correct first three digits of the lower quad are "387," with the calculated checksum appended at the end.

Thus, given an upper quad of "4976" and a correct lower quad of "387[checksum]," we should be able to find our association PIN in

-- -- 4,977 + 388 = 5365

guesses.

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting you mention DLNA, that recently found its way into the WiFi Direct standard! Linked to this company maybe?

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Why???

Why oh why do manufacturers keep insisting on ramming "improvements" down our throat whether we want them or not? It's getting increasingly difficult to find USB wired keyboards and mice these days, even though in most situations they are *vastly* superior.

Sure, there are some situations where you want a wireless mouse and keyboard (eg. for the Mac Mini connected to the TV in my lounge) but apart from the obvious battery problem a wired set up is just so much easier. If you have a lot of computers, both Macs and PCs, you really don't want to mess about with pairing and unpairing and dongles and installing drivers and all that crap. Just plug the damn thing in and it works.

Best of all you're very unlikely to lose a wired mouse! Just tug one end of the cable and you've got it, even if it's buried under a pile of papers or fallen off your desk (or liable to go "walking" of its own accord from a busy office or trade show floor).

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Anonymous Coward

TRUE...

and will there be any point for a wireless mouse to have real range of signal.

I mean what's the point sitting in the garden with a wireless mouse when the screen is in the house?

Alternatively a trackpad on a laptop is adequate, but unless you are at home it will mean adding your mouse to other networks.

What a lot if unnecessary faffing around

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Funnily enough I was shopping for a mouse today..

No AA batteries in this house.. not really interested unless the mouse is USB rechargeable, like nearly everything else I have - remote, phones, etc. If they do that for £15 or lower and I *might* consider it. It's still double what I pay for a corded mouse (even at PC World prices), but less risk of it dying suddenly.

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Anonymous Coward

@TonyHoyle - Dying suddenly ?

Good gracious, for decades all computer mice I discarded after being replaced were in perfectly good condition. Besides that, I always maintained a ratio of around 2.5 mice per PC in my home and at the office so this maybe a reason I could get away with it.

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Umm... WiFi Mice are already around...

Maybe using a different spec for the WiFi connection, but I am using an HP WiFi Mouse now on a brand-new(ish) ProBook 6460b which does not have Bluetooth,

The mouse was purchased for less than $50 at Staples in Canada... so mouse connections over WiFi is not exactly cutting edge.

Cheers!

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Silver badge

WILL STICK WITH MY WIRED MOUSE,

NO BATTERIES

NO CHARGING UP

NO INTERFERENCE

NO LAG

NO MISSPLACED MOUSE

KISS= KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

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Anonymous Coward

Time to...

fire up kismet and aircrack-ng..... remote desktop GUI here we go!

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AWESOM-O 4000?!?

Couldn't help but notice the similarity to Cartman's robot persona:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AWESOM-O

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Bronze badge

They can keep it

I'm still using the MS Intellimouse Explorer (version 1) that I bought when I finished school in 1999. The cable has broken at the mouse end at least 3 times, but thankfully it was a ridiculous length to start with so I just chop it and resolder.

I also agree with Rolf a few posts up - the improvements in mouses over the last few years seem all to have been to make them rubbish. I have trouble finding one to fit in my hand now that they make them all to fit into laptop bags instead!

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