Pointing to the future – five controllers that'll replace your mouse

Your computer mouse may not live forever ─ these next-gen control interfaces are jostling to replace it

Even though the computer has raced onwards in the pursuit of performance, let's face it, the old-fashioned mouse has changed little since its creation – all the way back in 1963. But a breed of plucky upstarts may spell the end of the peripheral as we know it. Here are five of the best examples we've laid eyes on.

Leonar3do Bird 3D mouse

A typical mouse works brilliantly in 2D as it works by moving a device across a 2D plane (a mouse mat), but 3D can be problematic. That's not a problem for AutoDesk's clever Leonar3do mouse, which uses a collection of antennae and triangulation to work out its position in space, allowing you to control 3D objects with your hand. Surely a winner when it comes to gaming and design?

Microsoft Kinect 2.0

Kinect never wowed diehard gamers, but its Kinect peripheral was undeniably clever, adding full-body motion tracking and voice control to the Xbox 360. The next Xbox is set to pack an improved Kinect 2.0 sensor, which will reportedly feature a wider field of view, a faster USB 3.0 connection and full HD resolution tracking – making it potentially more accurate than ever.

SpaceTop 3-D desktop

The SpaceTop 3-D desktop delivers a Minority Report-style 3D workspace, letting you swoosh files and folders around like Tom Cruise. Rather than jumping between tasks, you can pull Internet Explorer towards you, for instance – or use hand gestures to move objects on your desktop in 3D space. It even scans the direction of your gaze and changes the perspective you see on the transparent LED display.

Leap Motion

Imagine plugging in a USB gadget that can then read your 3D hand movement and accurately translate those movements onto a screen. Think pinch-to-zoom in thin air, or drawing something on screen without an actual pen ─ that's exactly what Leap Motion does. Best of all? It costs a bearable US$80.

Myo armband

Continuing on the ever-present trend of using a body part as a controller, Thalmic Labs' Myo armband sits on your arm. No surprises there, then. But this clever gadget can recognise up to 20 separate gestures thanks to its ability to detect activity in your arm via a collection of electrodes. The result is a clever mouse replacement that can detect individual finger movements.

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