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My Perfect Mouse

In the age of wireless devices and trackpads, the use of an external computer mouse has become obsolete to some. For this project, I researched, designed, and prototyped a computer mouse that would better suit my needs. The main feature I focused on throughout the process was ergonomics. 

Physical and digital prototypes

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Project:

Design and prototype a mouse that fits your personal needs

Tools:

Figma, ProCreate, Fusion 360, Adobe Dimension, Adobe Aero

Skills:

Sketching, competitive research, personas, foamcore prototyping, package design,  3D modeling, 3D rendering, mockups

Course:

Prototyping, Gregory Cowley

Duration:

7 weeks; September 2020 - November 2020

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Research

Before I could design anything, I had to figure out my own needs and goals, as well as those of some others. I asked my peers questions about their mouse usage and found that the general consensus among design students was that they preferred their laptop's trackpad to an external mouse. My own preferences were consistent with this, but when I asked others why, it came down to limited mobility (to use a mouse, you need a flat surface), disdain towards products that aren't built in, and general inconvenience and wrist strain that did not outweigh the desire for an external mouse.

I then looked at existing mouse designs online and studied the ones I had laying around at home. None of them felt comfortable, which was when I discovered the main feature to achieve should be ergonomic fit.

Mouse Research Photos

Personas

To better visualize the goals of this mouse, I created two user personas, detailed below.

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User Persona 1; Figma

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User Persona 2; Figma

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Brainstorming

After researching and figuring out the user needs, I sketched out variations of what my mouse design could be. Most of my designs focused on an overall flatness with gentle arc and asymmetry for ergonomics; the human hand is not symmetrical so it doesn’t make sense for the mouse to be.

 

Some additional features I was thinking about were extra buttons on the top left side, as well as a smooth transition for wrist support. Once I had a better idea of what I wanted to create, I chose 3 designs to draw orthographic sketches of.

Mouse Brainstorming Sketches; Graphite

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Solution 1

In this design, the right side of the mouse, as well as the right button, extends all the way down to the mousepad, creating a smooth area for the right side of your hand to rest. An indentation on the left is carved out for your thumb to grab, and some extra buttons are positioned above the thumb placement to encourage intentional pressing.

Solution 1 Orthographic Sketches; ProCreate

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Solution 2

The top view of this design is similar to the first one in that it is asymmetrical, but it has a much rounder overall shape. It's fairly consistent with most mouse designs out there, but also includes the two buttons above the thumb and indentations on both sides of the mouse for gripping.

Solution 2 Orthographic Sketches; ProCreate

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Solution 3

This design strays the furthest from the traditional computer mouse. Instead of positioning your palm parallel to the surface you are working on, this mouse would require the user to grab it like they would a cup, allowing the wrist to rest on its side. The sides are concave, allowing for easy gripping, and the two additional buttons make an appearance of the left side of the mouse, also above the thumb.

Solution 3 Orthographic Sketches; ProCreate

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Foam Prototype

I decided to go forward with Solution 1. To create the physical prototype, I printed out the orthographic sketches at their correct sizing and cut them out. I then took a block of foamcore and traced the top, two sides, and back view, as well as a safety margin to guide my lines for when I would cut.

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Physical Prototype Guide Lines, left view; Foam

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Physical Prototype Carving, left view; Foam

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Physical Prototype Guide Lines, back view; Foam

I used a box cutter knife to carve off the excess pieces, starting with the top view, then the two sides, and finally the front and back views, and the overall shape of the mouse was starting to come together.

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Physical Prototype Carving, top view; Foam

To soften and round the edges, I used sandpaper of varying grits to sand away the bumps and rough edges, as well as to deepen the left side's gripping area. You can view what it looked like at this point in the video to the left.

I then cut out pieces of styrene for the mouse's buttons and scroller and attached it to the foam with super glue. I did some final sanding and finished off the physical prototype.

Physical Prototype Carving Video; Foam

Below is a documentation of the physical mouse prototype.

View 1
View 2 (top)
View 3 (back)
View 4 (left)
View 5 (front)
View 6 (right)
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Packaging

For the packaging portion of this assignment, I looked up layouts for different types of boxes and picked one that I thought would go well with my mouse design. I measured out the length, width, and height of the mouse and adjusted the dimensions of the box layout accordingly, and then traced the lines out onto a piece of cardboard.

Packaging Guide Lines; Cardboard

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I used a box cutter to cut out all the edges and score the places I wanted the cardboard to fold.

Packaging Layout; Cardboard

Finally, I assembled the box and took photos of it with the foam core mouse, which you can view below.

Box View 1
Box View 2
Box View 3
Box View 4
Box View 5
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Orthographic Path Lines; Autodesk Fusion 360

3D Modeling in Fusion 360

The next step of this project was to create a digital version of the mouse prototype. I did this in Fusion 360, where I imported the orthographic views and drew outlines with the bezier tool from which I could pull out a solid.

With some adjusting of the resulting shape, I was able to round out the concave gripping section and smooth over the right side of the mouse. To finish it off, I changed the textures and colors of the various parts.

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Mouse 3D Model, top view; Autodesk Fusion 360

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Mouse 3D Model, side view; Autodesk Fusion 360

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Mouse 3D Model with Materials, front-left view; Autodesk Fusion 360

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Mouse 3D Model with Materials, front-right view; Autodesk Fusion 360

3D Rendering in Adobe Dimension

I exported the Fusion 360 file as an fbx and imported it into Adobe Dimension, where I put together a scene as a mockup for the mouse.

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Mouse 3D Model, front-right view; Adobe Dimension

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Mouse 3D Model Rendering, front-left view; Adobe Dimension

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Mouse 3D Model, left view; Adobe Dimension

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Mouse 3D Model Rendering, top-left view; Adobe Dimension

AR Mouse in Adobe Aero

As a final method of documentation, I imported the 3D mouse model into Adobe Aero, and took some pictures of it on my desk to visualize it in my own environment through AR.

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AR Mouse Model, top view; Adobe Aero

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AR Mouse Model, top-left view; Adobe Aero

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AR Mouse Model, left view; Adobe Aero

Final Slide Deck