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VR Interfaces: MX Air


Overview of MX Air
The MX Air is essentially a 6 DOF mouse. Bearing more than a passing similarity to a Wii-mote, the sleek black device is intended to be held in the hand like a remote control. An internal gyroscope and accelerometers detect its position and orientation in 3D space continually, reporting that information back to the computer system via 2.4ghz Wi-Fi. This is obviously far, far more data than would ever be needed in normal operations, but an ideal standard for later affixing more data onto.

When placed on a desk, or other flat surface, it reverts to being an optical mouse. As soon as it is lifted back into the air, the laser light dims, and free space sensing capabilities take over once more. The gesture control is accurate enough to sense tiny finger movements or wide and expressive wrist-flicks equally.

The mouse does not have a scroll wheel, but then again, it does not really need one - scroll wheels are designed to give an extra axis of movement to 2D mice. Instead, it possesses six buttons. Left and right as normal, with four programmable buttons in the middle. Hold any one of them down, and you have a scroll wheel, as you move the mouse. Hold another down, and perhaps you adjust the volume, or flit between different driver applications.

If the application cannot cope with a 3D mouse, the driver will still return up-down, and left-right, through the driver as a desktop mouse would read forwards-backwards, left-tight, allowing you to sit or stand in one place and waggle it.

The mouse is extremely expensive for what it is: 150 usd at time of writing. However, that is to be expected with all new technology. You can with a little technical skill, get a Nintendo Wii-mote to work with a PC, however it is not as finely accurate, and the price saving is not all that much.

One major disadvantage is the mouse is not compatible with any flavour of Linux.

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