Researchers of the Human–Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) of the Carnegie Mellon University have found that the optical sensors that are used in a computer mouse can also be used to enable digital music players and mobile phones to be utilized as gestural input and pointing devices.
The researchers have found that installing two optical sensors onto the back side of an mp3 player or mobile phone can make the device serve more like the computer mouse when placed on a surface. Termed as Minput, the new input method responds to side-to-side and up-down motions and also to flicking and twisting motions. The flicking motion allows the user to navigate between photo galleries or photos. The twisting motion facilitates zooming out or zooming in to a document or photo.
Chris Harrison, a Ph.D. student, who created the Minput method along with Scott Hudson, a HCII Professor, stated that by using the new method users can conveniently navigate through photo galleries and menus on a display of the given device.
Minput also facilitates high-precision positioning including choosing a sentence of words from a paragraph, which can be a difficult task to do on a small-sized touchscreen.