The 10th of Diduary: Did you know your application could use more than one mouse?

Today is the tenth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

This may seem like a silly thing to think about, but it’s most certainly possible. Multiple mice on the same computer. There’s a new SDK that makes this possible.

MultiPoint Mouse SDK

Most of the example applications on the website talk about educational applications, and I think this is a great way to create collaborative teaching tools, while restricting the amount of money schools have to invest in having an abundance of computers. (Don’t get me wrong, if our school systems could afford a laptop for every child, I’d be all for it. But “in these economic times,” it might not be feasible yet.)

I downloaded and installed the example application (Microsoft Mischief) to see how it works, and was pleasantly surprised how simple the installation was. It might have been a little messier if I didn’t already have the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 installed, but outside of that addition, it was very straightforward.

I was surprised to find out that it’s not an application at all. Instead, it’s an add-on to Powerpoint 2007. Essentially, it lets you create multi-mouse Powerpoint presentations. Very cool.

I created a quick quiz for my daughter and I to play with, and not only was it incredibly straight-forward, but it also JUST WORKED. There wasn’t any special configuration, no mouse registration, nothing. I had two mice plugged into my machine, and there were two cursors to play with. Here’s what the PPT interface looks like:

If you’d like to just play with an existing Mischief presentation, you’ll still need to install the add-on, but you can use the sample one I created here.

Here’s what one of the quiz pages looked like (click to enlarge), and notice that there are THREE mouse pointers, each with a different icon, as well. I’ve enlarged the icons in the second image.

I think that having multiple mouse input could lead to plenty of innovative games as well. I think most of them would be geared for parents to play with their children, because I can’t imagine huddling around one machine with my friends, but in an educational environment, I think this could be an outstanding way to leverage technology and learning.

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