Freespace Motion Control Technology Overview

Freespace Motion Control Technology Overview

The PC is quickly becoming the hub of the digital home. People use their computers to store digital media – from family photos to video clips to music – and access streaming content from the Internet – including TV shows, Internet radio and the latest video clips. Whether using a desktop PC in the home office, a laptop on the dining room table, or a media PC connected to the TV, people are gathering around this new media hub to entertain and be entertained. This new computer scenario demands an updated control device, which is why Logitech developed the MX Air™ Cordless Laser Mouse, featuring Freespace™ motion control technology.

Freespace technology provides fast, accurate, intuitive and consistent responses, regardless of the mouse’s position relative to the computer. In other words, people can navigate their digital content holding the MX Air mouse sideways in the air or even upside down. This is in stark contrast to input devices that require a reference surface, such as a desk, for orientation and calibration.

Because it uses Freespace technology, the MX Air mouse significantly outperforms in-air pointing solutions based on mechanical gyroscopes. And compared to navigating through hundreds of images or songs by repetitively clicking the arrow buttons on a Media Center remote control, navigating with the MX Air mouse provides a faster, more effective way of reaching a target. Whether leaning back at their desk or sitting across the room, using the MX Air mouse, people can simply point, click and use the scroll wheel to navigate content and applications, even when holding the mouse in midair. There is no need to keep an arm outstretched on the desk or struggle while trying to use a mouse on the couch.

Freespace motion control technology brings other unique benefits. Raising or lowering the volume can be done by simply waving the mouse in the air while holding a button; skipping to the next or previous track can be done by making a small circle in the air with the nose of the mouse.

Above all, Freespace motion control makes the MX Air mouse easy to use. Regardless of age, agility or technological ability, most people can become proficient with the MX Air mouse in a short period of time.

How Does Freespace Work?

When the MX Air mouse is held in the air, people can navigate content and applications by pointing and clicking on icons and hyperlinks – just as they would when using a mouse on the desk. The moment the mouse is lifted from a surface, Freespace motion technology recognizes that it is no longer being used on a desk or table. It identifies its orientation in space, and then isolates and translates multiple axes of motion into accurate, consistent and reliable on-screen cursor movements.

The precise translation of movement involves a combination of three important technologies: MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors, DSP (digital signal processing) and RF (radio frequency). The MEMS sensors detect motion; DSP provides accurate, consistent and reliable responses; and RF wireless communication virtually eliminates latency and line-of-sight limitations – all at a range of up to 10 meters (30 feet). Freespace technology combines these three technologies to provide the following benefits when people use the MX Air mouse:

  • Orientation Compensation: MEMS sensors and proprietary algorithms enable consistent control of the MX Air mouse from any position. Regardless of the orientation of the mouse – it can be pointed at the ground, upside down or turned sideways – Freespace motion control technology generates natural and intuitive cursor motions on the screen.

  • Tremor Cancellation: All humans have some degree of tremor, or involuntary motion. For example, when a person points a laser pointer at a wall and attempts to keep his hand completely still, the laser point on the wall bounces around, revealing the user’s involuntary hand movement. Freespace technology can reduce the impact of tremors by 70 percent to 90 percent with virtually no additional latency. Using sophisticated signal processing algorithms to distinguish between intentional motion and unintentional tremors, Freespace technology effectively cancels tremors. As a result, unlike the laser beam on the wall, the computer’s cursor does not shake on-screen when the user tries to hold his hand still.

  • Gesture Commands: Gesture-based commands add a new level of sophistication to the MX Air mouse. By recognizing defined patterns of movement, or gestures, MX Air enables people to perform commands by simply moving the mouse in a specified way. For example, to change the volume, people need only press and hold the volume button and gesture – to the right to increase volume, or to the left to decrease it. For music applications, holding the Play/Pause button and making a small circular motion to the right activates the skip track command, while a circle to the left repeats the song. Using Logitech® SetPoint™ software, people can choose from additional gesture commands, including Air Zoom, Launch MenuCast™ and Recenter the cursor.

  • High Accuracy: Because people don’t need to be close to their monitor when using the MX Air mouse, it is important that they be able to select screen targets with accuracy, even at a distance of up to 30 feet (10 meters). User testing with target acquisition tests based on Fitts’ Law (see sidebar) show that Freespace-enabled devices allow people to consistently acquire and select circle-shaped targets significantly faster and more accurately than in-air devices that use mechanical gyroscopes. In fact, studies have shown that in target tests based on Fitts’ Law, Freespace motion control technology produces 50 percent fewer pointing errors than mechanical gyroscope-based devices, and in tracking tests, produces more than a 25 percent improvement in the pointing speed. This is due to the higher resolution of Freespace technology. For standard-speed motions, the MX Air mouse has nearly twice the resolution of devices based on a mechanical gyroscope, and at low speeds the resolution of MX Air mouse is nearly 20 times higher. The increase in resolution, coupled with lower latency, enables people to point and click on an object more efficiently than with a mechanical gyroscope-based device.

  • Low Latency: Highly responsive sensors, very sophisticated algorithms and RF technology ensure minimum latency between hand and cursor motion. This technology increases the efficiency in all pointing tasks, reduces fatigue and enables smooth and accurate pointing at screen details.
  • The Future of PC Navigation Has Arrived

    As more video and audio entertainment becomes digital, and media companies develop more-effective channels for distributing content online, the PC is fast becoming the hub of the digital home. To meet the demands of this new world, Logitech is driving the future of control devices. In fact, the future is now: Freespace motion control enables people to use the Logitech MX Air mouse to control their digital media with the ease they expect from a traditional mouse, whether they are leaning back or standing across the room.