If we’re moving beyond the PC, don’t we deserve a better interface to control our devices? Everybody’s seen Minority Report, where Tom Cruise waves his arms around to control a computer (which looks cool but is actually an ergonomic nightmare), and the widespread rise of kinetic interfaces rode Wii Sports as we fished, raced, and bounced our way around various obstacles. Mauz—showing off at Macworld/iWorld 2013—aims to be a single device to rule all others, providing gestural, kinetic, and touchscreen-based control capabilities.
Swish and Flick
Appletell got a chance to meet the Mauz creators, discuss their Kickstarter campaign (which runs through March 8), and get a hands-on look at this Macworld 2013 Best of Show device. Falling squarely in the “appcessory” category, Mauz is a combination of an iPhone app and a Dock/Lightning accessory that converts your iPhone into a touchscreen mouse, a kinetic control, and a gesture recognizer. Each of these three modes can be used to control traditional devices like a PC, and developers can build custom bundles of shortkeys, button layouts, and bindings for use in their application (more on that in a minute).
The three modes of device control Mauz offers provide a number of intriguing possibilities, as it can turn your iPhone into anything ranging from a traditional mouse to a game controller to a super powerful presentation aid. The three modes are:
- Smart Mouse: The Mauz device contains a laser sensor, so once it’s plugged into your iPhone it acts like a giant touchscreen mouse. Left and right click buttons straddle a scroll bar on the iPhone’s screen, programmable hot keys line either side, and an orb in the middle displays which app you’re currently using, as the Mauz interface can be reconfigured on a per-app basis (so the lower right hot key can open a new tab in Safari, then be used to rotate a picture 90º in Aperture).
- Motion Controller: Who doesn’t want a magic wand for their computer? Mauz’s built-in motion gestures let you flip, swing, swish, and twirl your PC. At Macworld the Mauz team demonstrated controlling a 3D modeling program where you literally spin the model by spinning your iPhone. In motion mode, the iPhone screen is also a button interface, so you can keep shortcut keys handy, and developers can customize how the iPhone gestures control their apps.
- Visual Gestures: Here’s where it gets good. The Mauz app turns your iPhone’s front camera into a gesture recognizer, so you can use hand and finger motions to control your computer. Move your hand from left to right to spin the globe in Google Earth, or flick your finger (no, not that one) up to raise the volume of your favorite track. Cover Flow in iTunes may be gone, but what if you could wave your way through a list of new movies available to rent on your AppleTV?
The demo unit on show at Macworld was just a prototype, but still managed to be at once impressive and enthralling. With an open developer SDK, the Mauz app can be extended to control just about anything. And at just 1/4 of an ounce, the actual Mauz accessory is much easier to carry than even a traditional travel mouse.
Slated to be available in June for iPhone 4/4s and August for iPhone 5, Mauz’s Kickstarter campaign is currently running short of its funding goal, though many of the good pledge gifts are already taken. Check out the project details on Mauz’s site, and stay tuned to Appletell for more details as this exciting project scrolls its way closer to reality.
Be sure to check out our coverage of other exhibitors from Macworld / iWorld 2013.