BlueTrack lets new Microsoft mice track on granite

Nine years after introducing its first optical mouse, Microsoft has decided to tread some new ground with a brand-new optical sensor system. Fittingly, treading new ground is exactly what Microsoft claims its BlueTrack Technology does.

Instead of a laser or red LED, BlueTrack uses a blue beam to light up surfaces. Couple that with a “specular optics architecture,” a special image sensor, and proprietary pixel geometry, and you get a mouse that supposedly works on “virtually any surface . . . from a granite kitchen countertop to the living room carpet.” That said, Microsoft cautions that BlueTrack mice don’t work on clear glass or mirrors (duh).

Microsoft has fitted two futuristic-looking mice with BlueTrack tech: the Explorer Mouse and Explorer Mini Mouse. Both products are wireless and come with little USB receivers that snap into the bottom of the mouse. To that, the Explorer adds a snap-in battery charging base, while the Explorer Mini’s smaller docking base simply switches the mouse off (the Mini can supposedly last more than six months on one charge, compared to three weeks for its big brother).

Like all new technology, these latest mice won’t be cheap. Microsoft quotes recommended prices of $99.95 for the Explorer and $79.95 for the Explorer Mini. On the upside, you’ll have some time to mull over the purchase, since Microsoft says the mice won’t become available until November.

Comments closed
    • jsncable
    • 12 years ago

    Will it work on a blue table? Remember the old hand scanners that were red, they wouldn’t scan(or see) anything red… I imagine it would work, surely someone has thought of that.. but I have an old MS wheel optical mouse that won’t scan on anything red…

    • Mr Bill
    • 12 years ago

    <rant>OK, I’ll bite. Why a ‘granite kitchen counter top you ask? Because most people think any polished rock is granite. Why not a marble counter top? Would’nt this mouse be just as good on marble? Well maybe not, after all the calcite in marble has that oddly exaggerated refractive index behavior compared to that of the silicates in granite. Calcite is strongly birefringent and the old trick of using a calcite crystal to make a pencil point on a page look like two just might slightly confuse an LED mouse, blue or red. But I think its just that “granite” is any polymineralic silicate rock which, with a hardness of around 7, has superior wear characteristics to marble with calcite’s hardness of only 3. So, all metamorphic and granitoid rocks get called “granite”. Its a bit annoying, but only to an igneous petrologist. </rant> Heh.

    • Pax-UX
    • 12 years ago

    Wow, great way to solve a non-existing problem Microsoft. $80 or new mouse mat? I’ll have to think about that one.

    • floodo1
    • 12 years ago

    haha you guys are talking about ads! Thats so…..OLD SKOOL!

    adblock plus, ftw

      • Meadows
      • 12 years ago

      My ban sense’s tingling.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 12 years ago

        <alarmnoise> “Nuclear Launch Detected.”

    • alex666
    • 12 years ago

    I just got my first laptop, and bought an optical mouse for it. I use the laptop in a lot of settings that don’t always have readily available smooth surfaces. However, if I’m sitting and using the laptop in one spot long enough, I definitely prefer using the optical mouse if possible. So this new optical mouse technology might prove interesting and useful, if a bit expensive at this time. I’ve learned never to underestimate how these sorts of peripheral devices can really affect overall ease of use on a day-in and day-out basis. Kudos to MS for keeping that in mind.

    • Voldenuit
    • 12 years ago

    $99 for a mouse and it’s not Bluetooth? Lose.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 12 years ago

    …but can it play Crysis on ultra high settings?

    • evermore
    • 12 years ago

    More graphics processing power than a Voodoo!

    So what happens when you put it on top of a blue mousepad?

    I wish they’d put a LITTLE bit of new technology into older, less eye-searing styles. Particularly the plain old IntelliMouse Optical. They’ve completely abandoned anything but funky “ergonomic” right-handed mice (MS and all other makers I mean), unless you just want a 2-button wheel mouse. If all this super-sensor-lightup crap actually makes the mouse more responsive or track more smoothly or generate healing waves that will cure halitosis or whatever they’re claiming, I’d be willing to pay a higher price (though no fricking way I’d pay $100 for a mouse). Of course they don’t bother doing this because the plain old red LED works perfectly fine for anybody not measuring the tracking with a micrometer in order to justify having bought the newest.

      • Meadows
      • 12 years ago

      It didn’t for me actually, which is why I own a laser mouse.

    • Krogoth
    • 12 years ago

    What is the point?

    Just more silly gimmicks.

    I suppose the technology is handy for certain niches (ie computers in areas with odd surfaces where laser and red LED units would not work well)

      • Scrotos
      • 12 years ago

      I kinda agree. Hard to get excited about a… mouse. I don’t even use a mousepad anymore with my low-grade optical, it just works fine. Hell, I was using a mouse on the carpet sitting in front of my TV, then on my leg when I got tired of having my arm all the way on the ground.

      Was this a big problem in the mousing world that needed to be solved? Seemed like a non-issue to me, and I got $5 mice, nothing special.

    • albundy
    • 12 years ago

    That is one fugly mouse!

    • SecretMaster
    • 12 years ago

    I love how the top page advertisement for this article is one that advertises countertops. Just makes me laugh a little.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 12 years ago

      Content targetting?

        • SecretMaster
        • 12 years ago

        I’m aware of how the ad-searching works. I still find it humorous though, because this is a tech site with an advertisement for granite counter-tops.

          • ssidbroadcast
          • 12 years ago

          Well it’s just the perfect, most logical sequence of transactions: buy a mouse… then buy a new granite countertop to go with it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

            • SecretMaster
            • 12 years ago

            Ah. Touche.

            • FireGryphon
            • 12 years ago

            Sweet. ๐Ÿ™‚

            It’s actually not too bad of an idea, anyway. I mean, tech geeks buy counter tops, so why not target us in our native environment?

            • Usacomp2k3
            • 12 years ago

            My desk at home is a countertop mounted on a wooden frame with drawers. ๐Ÿ˜†

            • SecretMaster
            • 12 years ago

            Well now its time to upgrade to granite and become a /[

            • UberGerbil
            • 12 years ago

            IME the only men who care about granite countertops are the ones whose wives /[

    • jeffry55
    • 12 years ago

    You guys are a HOOT!

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    Some MS engineers must’ve gotten sick of their wives complaining to them that their kitchen computer mice didn’t work on their fancy Corinthian Granite counter tops….

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 12 years ago

      pretty much…

    • PRIME1
    • 12 years ago

    About time Microsoft adopted blue ray…….

      • seawolf1118
      • 12 years ago

      agreed. perhapes too much pride to let go?

      • FireGryphon
      • 12 years ago

      oh, rimshot ๐Ÿ™‚

      • provoko
      • 12 years ago

      haha, good one

    • grantmeaname
    • 12 years ago

    what happens when your Explorer Mini turns 6 months old?

      • Deathright
      • 12 years ago

      ever seen Logan’s run?

        • FireGryphon
        • 12 years ago

        Logitech will lead us to Sanctuary.

    • ew
    • 12 years ago

    Hey, you know what kind of mouse already works on mirrors, clear glass and granite?

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 12 years ago

      Minni Mouse…when she is working at the strip club now that Disney has forgotten her.

      • Prototyped
      • 12 years ago

      But but balls are hard to clean omgs!

      Cue mouse testicle jokes and double entendres.

        • ew
        • 12 years ago

        If I can just figure out a way to make the ball glow blue I’ll be a millionaire. I’ll call it the BlueBallz Mouse!

      • eitje
      • 12 years ago

      gyroscopic mice?

      no balls!

      • Rakhmaninov3
      • 12 years ago

      Hah! My thought exactly. $99 for ultra-precise cursor movement in the kitchen.

      Reminds me of Space Pens….the US spent beaucoup bucks and countless man-hours inventing an ink pen that would write in the low-gravity, low-pressure environment of the space shuttle.

      The Russians used a pencil.

      ๐Ÿ™‚

        • KeillRandor
        • 12 years ago

        Actually – that’s an often repeated myth:

        ยง[<http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp<]ยง

        • MadManOriginal
        • 12 years ago

        In Soviet Russia, pencil uses you.

          • NeronetFi
          • 12 years ago

          ….nice……

        • tesla120
        • 12 years ago

        Thats why we are in America, we can spend more money then one can imagine just for the hell of inventing it.

        and really, these mice aren’t any further off in price as any other mouse when it first comes out… some are still this price and who knows if its bluetooth or RF. if its bluetooth (i hope) the mini is about the right price.

            • tesla120
            • 12 years ago

            damn… whats so hard about making the switch to bluetooth??? rf sucks and the 2.4 ghz band is clogged up as it is….

            • ludi
            • 12 years ago

            Uhm…what? Bluetooth is RF in the 2.4GHz band. It’s just spec’d to operate on a much narrower slice of spectrum over much shorter distances.

            • tesla120
            • 12 years ago

            ya and because of that it doesn’t get messed up by things like your microwave or telephone…

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 12 years ago

    A little bit underwhelming, especially with only 2 models at such high prices.

      • eitje
      • 12 years ago

      well, but you don’t need to charge the mini for 6 months!

        • evermore
        • 12 years ago

        I’d bet the fine print clarifies that as something like 2 hours of usage with only minimal actual mouse movement per day, 3 days a week (a “typical” mobile usage pattern they’ll claim) versus 8 hours of daily desktop usage for the full-size mouse where it barely ever has time to go into power-saving mode.

        It’s not like the electronics’ power usage really should differ between the two, unless the Mini just has less sensitive optics and a lower-power light. The software package probably has to be installed and set to “maximum power save” for the 6 month bit to be valid, with the light falling almost completely off if you let the mouse stop moving for more than 2 seconds, and it’ll wake up slow to save power so there will be initial lag.

        I want a mouse with steel tank treads. I know that’s virtually impossible but it’d be really cool.

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 12 years ago

        The MS Optical Mouse that I had quite a few years ago lasted 6 months on battery. So does the Logitech…Nano that I think it was JBI that really likes. Heck, that one even runs on one battery.

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