Thu, Aug 20, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Logitech to market mouse for use on glass surfaces

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Logitech International SA, the world’s biggest maker of computer mice, will sell a mouse that lets users work on glass tables or polished stone kitchen units — surfaces where its devices previously had trouble functioning.

The Anywhere Mouse MX for laptops will sell for US$79.99, and the larger Performance Mouse MX for US$99.99, chief executive officer Gerald Quindlen said in an interview. The devices use so-called darkfield laser tracking to follow movement on clear glass or other polished surfaces, the company said.

“Notebook users know the problem,” Quindlen said from his home in Atlanta, Georgia. “Even their wonderful laser mouse doesn’t work on a glass surface or their granite countertop in their kitchen, so it appeals to them.”

Logitech has made more than a billion mice since 1982, and the new mice are among its most profitable businesses, Quindlen said. The company competes with Microsoft Corp to supply devices for people using computers in various locations.

“In general our mice category has higher margins than other product categories that we sell, and these two products have great margins within the overall portfolio of mice,” Quindlen said.

Microsoft’s most expensive mouse costs US$99.95 and comes with one gigabyte of flash memory. Quindlen declined to say by how much the two mice could increase sales. It may take longer than usual to build the market, because of the weakened economy and consumer spending, he said.

Logitech, based in Romanel-sur-Morges, Switzerland, spent five years developing the new devices. To solve the problem of smooth surfaces, Logitech applied darkfield microscopy technology that measures movement by bouncing light off defects too small for the naked eye to see, such as microscopic specks of dust or scratches.

“It’s for any piece of glass that’s been in the real world for more than 10 minutes,” said Greg Dizac, one of the engineers who led the development of the product.

Logitech’s engineers worked with Singapore-based semiconductor maker Avago Technologies Ltd to pack technology previously used in laboratories into the palm-sized devices. The first prototypes of the black and gray mice that are lined with chrome and rubber trim were bigger than shoeboxes, Dizac said.

Quindlen said he would be one of the beneficiaries of the new devices. He has struggled to get his mice to work on the stone surfaces of his home kitchen and glass tables in hotels when he travels in 46 out of 52 weeks.

“I’d have to take a book or something and put it on the glass and use the mouse within that,” he said. “Now that’s solved.”

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