back to article Polish chap builds computer into a mouse

The specs aren't going to excite gamers, but Polish developer Przemysław Strzelczyk and his team have built a decent working computer into a Mouse. The Mouse-Box, currently at working prototype stage, packs a 1.4 GHz quad-core ARM CPU, a micro-HDMI port, WiFi up to 802.11n, accelerometer, gyroscope, two USB 3.0 ports and 128 …

  1. Captain DaFt

    "Headphones are a possibility"

    Been there, done that, didn't sell:

    http://www.ruggedpcreview.com/3_handhelds_motorolasolutions_hc1.html

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      You wouldn't expect a Windows CE machine to sell....

      ... even though the market share of Windows went _down_ with the move from CE to "Phone".

    2. e^iπ+1=0

      What about glasses?

      "Headphones are a possibility"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, but those are clunky Windows CE based devices intended for industrial use. You could embed a quite decent CPU in the earcups of most headphones capable of doing the necessary voice processing to make a usable interface.

      Unlike Google Glass, most people are used to seeing people wearing headphones and so they would likely be more socially acceptable.

  2. mrcreosote

    finally.

    Given the preponderance of USB-stick computers out there, the real question is why it took so long for someone to come up with this. And presumably one of the USB ports will be taken up with a receiver for a wireless keyboard.

    This seems slightly more practical

    http://www.cybernetman.com/en/all-in-one-pc/Keyboard-pc/ZPC-D5

    1. Efros

      Re: finally.

      Vic 20 anyone?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: finally.

      Nice! Although as Efros said, Vic20 anyone? Or, for that matter, pretty much every home computer prior to the PC came in that form factor. I'm surprised it's taken so long to return to what is an eminently sensible "all-in-one". Cheaper in terms of replacement when it eventually breaks and by the looks of it may be internally upgradable. A better design than putting the computing gubbins in the screen since odds are when the computer breaks or needs replacing, you get to keep the screen, unlike, say, Apple iMacs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: finally.

      Wonderful, a laptop minus its screen…

      Yes, personal computers did once look like that, because screens were the expensive bit, and so they just used your television set.

      Devices like the Intel NUC and Zotac ZBox are small enough to bolt to the back of a monitor and not be noticed. We've had one of the latter units bolted to the back of a monitor in our office reception area for a few years now and you could plug any keyboard you liked into it.

  3. sqlrob
    Stop

    Given the size of most HDMI cables, it seems like it would suck trying to move a mouse with one attached. A touchpad would be more useful, and give more room for higher specs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @sqlrob, or even a large trackball.

    2. Malcolm 1

      Should have waited for the USB type-C connector which can route video over the usb cable. I suppose DisplayLink would work too if you had a compatible monitor.

    3. J 3
      Joke

      And then...

      Oh, and then just add a keyboard and a screen to the unit and that would be perfect!

  4. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Ok, it's a quad core ARM, just like my phone. If only my phone could connect to a monitor with say MHL or SlimPort, Bluetooth for a keyboard and could connect to the network - oh wait.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      just like my phone

      I was thinking along similar lines. This is like a phone but with the phone functionality removed. And bigger.

  5. anatak

    phone app ?

    maybe a phone app where you can slide your phone as a mouse with the camera as a motion sensor. Than at last phones will become small enough to be used with one hand.

  6. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    How is the keyboard connected? It will be a must for me, and the guys in the video type happily. No mention of Bluetooth, so I assume there will be a cable to one of the USB ports? A mouse with two cables in different directions? Possible, but seems unwieldy, and requires a surface.

    I think I'd prefer a keyboard with a built-in trackball, like the one I am typing on right now. Does not require a surface, and if graphics can be done wirelessly (should be OK for office/dev/IT) with an HDMI option for movies and stuff, and for cases where wireless co-operation from big screens is not forthcoming...

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    I do not see the value in putting it in a mouse

    The website mentions working on an inductive charging pad, wireless image transfer and wifi, so you can get the number of cables out of the mouse down to zero - at the cost of finding out what happens to your hand if you keep it right on top of all those RF emissions all day.

    The other option would be to bolt the computer to the monitor and use a bluetooth mouse. People have held bluetooth devices to their heads for years without obvious problems and with mouse separate from the computer you can plug in lots of USB things without having to move the mouse through a tangle of cables. Also, when someone puts the mouse in their coffee, replacing the mouse is going to be cheaper than replacing the computer.

    I do not see a use case that cannot be handled better by one of the many existing small cheap computers.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: I do not see the value in putting it in a mouse

      While I agree technically, there may be some benefit to having a single device. It's probably better though to have a mouse with a USB plug into which you can put all the other gubbins. HDMI is also good because its likely that port on the monitor will be available and people won't be too worried about leaving an HDMI cable around, whereas they probably don't want to leave a USB stick plugged into the back of the screen.

      Marketing-wise, better to sell a mouse which gives you android than a stick, a mouse, a keyboard, an SD card which people hope might work together, though admittedly, perhaps a mouse with an "HDMI receiver" with all the electronics in it might be better.

      How about thunderbolt, though, giving you displayport rather than HDMI?

  8. xperroni
    Paris Hilton

    A computer you can carry on your pocket!

    It leads El Reg to wonder what other suitably-small consumer products would be all the better for having a fully-fledged computer inside.

    Hey I've got a crazy idea: what if we put a fully-working computer inside... A CELLPHONE?!!1!

  9. Christian Berger Silver badge

    What I'd like to see...

    Is a monitor with a fast serial port (i.e. based on RS-485) with a megabit per second or so which uses its OSD hardware to emulate a high resolution xterm with nice crispy sharp bitmap fonts.

    1. Herby Silver badge

      Re: What I'd like to see...

      "Is a monitor with a fast serial port (i.e. based on RS-485) with a megabit per second or so which uses its OSD hardware to emulate a high resolution xterm with nice crispy sharp bitmap fonts."

      Well, if you are doing a bit mapped display (or something similar), 1/3 megabit is about what a 640x480 display has in pixels. Given that, you would get a frame rate of around 3 per second. This assumes that there aren't any timing bits in the stream.

      There used to be a market for "X-Terminals" that did all the X-server things and you hooked them up to bigger boxes to get graphics. They used a 10-Base-T ethernet to get things to go fast enough.

      One megabit just isn't fast enough. Of course now you have USB speeds way up there in the GHz range.

      The solution: a single 75 ohm coax standard for what the HDMI cable gives you. It would probably be in the GHz range anyway.

      Now if they were REAL cool the MouseBox would have a small transmitter to send out an 8VSB signal on channel 3 (take your pick) and you would just "tune it in". An on screen keyboard (as needed) and the charging mat and you would be good to go!

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: What I'd like to see...

        I think you misunderstood me. I didn't mean an X-server, I meant a simple "VT100" terminal, but roughly with the feature set of xterm. So in a 1920x1080 screen you'd get about 240x67 character of text. That's roughly 16 kilobytes, or roughly 6 full updates per second at 1 MBit, not thrillingly fast, but you usually only update a small part. If you throw in 10MBit Ethernet, which would require additional hardware, you could update the screen roughly as fast as it's refreshing.

        The problem with 8VSB, and I assume you want ATSC to go with it, is the high price of equipment. In 2008 I've been to my local TV station. They had an ATSC receiver there, it cost as much as a car even though it was locally produced, which makes sense as it contains 2 complete PCs connected via an Ethernet cable. One does the ATSC/VSB decoding while the other one runs VLC to display the video. DVB-* on the other hand is cheap as dirt.

        However even DVB would be prohibitively expensive since you need to do MPEG2/H264 encoding. And again, people will end up displaying fixed

  10. JDX Gold badge

    128 GB flash ... nobody will be able to work for long with so little storage

    If it was 32GB maybe, since many Win8 tablets ships with 32-64Gb SSDs. For a travel-PC that spare 90Gb will do nicely, we forget just how much space ONE gigabyte is when it comes to storing documents!

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: 128 GB flash ... nobody will be able to work for long with so little storage

      I know a couple of people who keep copies of every film ever made but most people rarely break 20 gig or so (excluding operating system) and if they do they tend to go for NAS and a bit of organising by then.

      1. fruitoftheloon

        @Tom: Re: 128 GB flash ... nobody will be able to work for long with so little storage

        Tom,

        via PlayTV (on PS3) we have recorded fave films/progs for 6 years or so, the array is about 6tb now.

        Cheers,

        j

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: 128 GB flash ... nobody will be able to work for long with so little storage

      I agree - my MBA has 128Gb - with my ITunes library on a Nas - there is plenty of space to run any application I need, all store my core documents AND a copy of Win 7 running over Parallels.

      I have a 32gb thumbnail sized USB key sticking out the side as my "just in case" that's never been used for anything but adhoc data transfers.

  11. saif

    What OS?

    Looks like Ubuntu/Unity on one of the screenshots...

    Android I guess would be another feasible OS...

  12. Jason Hindle

    Well, you could argue...

    We're already building computers into graphic tablet. Microsoft in particular has (badly, so far) managed to blur the lines between input device and full blown computer.

  13. Def Silver badge
    Joke

    Meh

    It's not even cordless.

  14. Ali on the Reg

    Doesn't mention the size

    Do you need two hands to operate the mouse?

  15. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Microwriter?

    Make the mouse a Microwriter or CyKey as well, and you could cover all the bases.

    A full computer with keyboard equivalent and mouse that you could hold and use in one hand. Need to work out some display that could be used while mobile. Maybe Glass or another HUD system.

  16. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Nefarious use

    From the promo video it seems a prime use is sneaking your own PC into work where own PCs are prohibited.

    I am struggling to tell if it's a joke or a genuine product.

  17. Slacker@work

    Handy!!

    So slap on some remote control/screen grabber/keylogging software and nip into the finance department whilst they are at lunch. Swap for a normal mouse and then have the device send back all the info you like via the WiFi....

    Would work equally well for keeping an eye on the kids, loved ones, flat mates....

  18. theOtherJT

    I actually quite like that. Would be nice for giving presentations and the like... mostly because I despise track-pads / touch screens I suppose, but still.

  19. DropBear Silver badge

    What all these "inventions" neglect to (or choose to not) consider is that this general idea of a portable computer, "with you all the time" is NOT constrained by the computer itself (heck, you're already carrying an equivalent of that gizmo in your phone) but by the availability of decent peripherals. Sure, ultimately the phone is capable of functioning as a self-contained computer, but it's definitely not convenient to use as one, as-is. You'd want a full-size mouse, keyboard and screen to go with it - and just arbitrarily providing one of them (the mouse, here) will not solve the lack of the other two, even if ads for such gadgets try their best to convince you spare screens and keyboards are ubiquitous. The truth is, we're peripheral-limited and that's unlikely to change as long as working on a full-sized desktop or even laptop will remain much more comfortable than on any ultra-portable solution.

    To be honest, the most ubiquitous peripheral today is... another complete computer - which is why solutions like the obscure, now defunct "Black Dog" USB dongle (that essentially cannibalized its host PC for its peripherals, but ran all software locally, outside its host, using it only as an x-server) still seems the best idea of the bunch. It's a shame it didn't take off. Maybe this would be a good time to re-implement the same thing in a smartphone? I mean, they already have the only required USB connector anyway...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    two USB 3.0 ports

    being Polish myself I'm at liberty to have a go at the obvious: did you hear about a Polish developer who put two usb ports on the bottom of his mouse pc?

    yes, yes, I CAN see them!

    ok, here's another: did you hear about a mouse developed in Poland? Apparently it comes with three cables.

    ...

    where's me hat, as the natives say...

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Jess

    Support?

    This appears to be a new design, so it would need a high degree of success to be any use.

    I would have though basing it on the Pi compute module would be far more sensible.

  23. nigeb

    keyboard

    How about a keyboard?

    Oh, wait a minute...

    http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm//wp-content/uploads/2012/08/x665.86p-03-032.jpg

  24. Duncan Parker

    Better Idea

    I think a far better idea would be to incorporate this into a keyboard. This could then have the additional feature of a small hinged lid that doubles as a monitor screen.

  25. Patrick R
    Holmes

    Power ???

    If "all you need is a screen" and it's only connected to the HDMI cable and the battery is "optionnal", where does the power come from? From your wrist? I recon I could work longer with a 128Gig SSD than wit one AA battery.

    They say "the mouse pad can work as a charger"... to the optional battery ? So you'd need the mouse pad. I guess the mouse pad is itself connected to a PSU, you'd need the PSU. What next?

  26. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    Why induction charging?

    Are they just trying to check off another item on the "Useless new feature"? Or do they not understand that portable means not having to carry around the mouse pad and a power adapter.

    Although I don't understand how this is an different than taking a smart phone that was built with a Micro-HDMI connector and stripping off the screen, speakers/mic, and cellular radio while re-wiring some buttons to make it a mouse. Oh and making it much more difficult to carry around.

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: Why induction charging?

      Did anyone see any mention of battery size/runtime on that page?

      To me that was the glaringly missing detail. Along with the weight of course!

      Looks interesting, but I can't help wondering how that HDMI cable is going to stay connected, I didn't see any additional locking mechanism on it.

      Could be interesting at the right price, but then again, I could probably build my own... Base of an old mouse for the optical, Odroid-C1 for motherboard (Quad core ARM, LiPo built in), wifi USB dongle and I'd just need to sort out the wireless charging coil on the base and the ability to operate as a mouse to a 2nd system (probably just software) and the job's done.

  27. CJ_in_AZ

    "It leads El Reg to wonder what other suitably-small consumer products would be all the better for having a fully-fledged computer inside." -- haven't you Brits heard of the Altoids Tin? (The one at hand claims it was "MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN".) That seems to be the "gold standard" in the Maker world. The "Made in USA" Beagle Bone Black fits into one.

  28. msknight Silver badge
    Joke

    Hmm...

    I'd like to see how they handle starting that up at the airport.

    A mouse jam packed with electronics ... like that's not going to attract suspicion.

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