Apple’s never really been very strong when it comes to designing usable mice, but they have certainly always been innovative: from the Mighty Mouse to the Magic Mouse to the Magic Trackpad.
Apple’s latest discovered patent describes a mouse that could have been: the Ambidextrous Mouse.
The patent itself, first submitted back in 2003, describes a wireless, user-configurable mouse that could automatically recognize whether it was being held by a left or right handed user and adjust its buttons accordingly.
In fact, the Ambidextrous Mouse actually sounds a lot like the first germs of the idea that would become the Magic Mouse, being described as a “a unibody housing having a buttonless touch sensitive surface” which would be “divided into an array of independent and spatially distinct sensing regions.”
The big difference appears to be the strange addition of a scroll wheel on the side, as well as a big feature not found on the Magic Mouse: the ability for the operating system to be able to automatically detect which user had sat down in front of the computer and log them in according to how they were holding the mouse.
What a killer feature. Let’s hope Apple dusts off this patent sometime soon and patches that ergonomic identification into the Magic Mouse. I’d never thought of it as the Mac equivalent of a fingerprint reader, but with some clever programming, maybe a mouse could be.