It's not often that we at Deaf Gamers come across a piece of hardware that is something we can get excited about. OK so graphics cards are always developing and continuing to amaze but at the end of the day they are just refined versions of existing products. No, what we want as deaf gamers is new products that enrich our game playing experience.
This is where the Logitech iFeel MouseMan comes in. The mouse has a sensory motor inside which provides tactile feedback. The software that comes with the mouse enables you to feel your way around the Windows desktop, Internet Explorer and virtually any other Windows application. It vibrates on icons, hyperlinks, web buttons and folders etc. The vibration's strength can be altered as can it's nature. The Immersion Desktop software lets you pick a theme such as spongy, metallic and crisp to name but a few. Each one of these themes creates different vibrations so if the metallic one feels too harsh you can change it to spongy for a softer feel.
will probably have noticed from the above picture of the iFeel MouseMan
that the the mouse has been ergonomically designed to suit the right hander
(with a good sized hand at that). If you are left handed then you will be
interested in the iFeel Mouse which is designed to be used in the left hand
or the right hand and is more comfortable to use if you have small hands.
Both of the mice are optical and offer far superior performance to the traditional
ball 'n' roller mechanism that we've all become sick of cleaning over the
years. Installation was a breeze and there were no issues encountered with
the driver software.
So it is a superb point, feel 'n' click device but what is so special about the iFeel MouseMan? and why are we at Deaf Gamers reviewing a mouse when we should be concentrating on games? Well the answer to both questions is this - the iFeel mouse opens doors for deaf gamers and enables us to experience tactile sensations in our games. Sure force feedback wheels and joysticks have been with us a while and they are a nice compliment to driving games and flight simulations but what about every other type of game. You know what the current situation is for deaf gamers, most First Person shooters are practically unplayable because they rely on sound to aid the player (the sounds of footsteps approaching etc.) but what if the mouse could let us know through vibrations, what if the vibration occurred at the front of the mouse to indicate something was ahead or vice versa. Suddenly we wouldn't be so much in the dark. There are no limits on the games that could be given tactile feedback to aid the deaf gamer and compensate for our inability to appreciate the sounds.
The first game to include support for the iFeel Mouse is Black & White. The support for the mouse within the game includes tactile sensations when picking up food or wood, hovering your hand over gold or silver scrolls, hovering your hand over people and a sort of warning vibration when you've hit a boundary. There are other instances where the mouse vibrates and generally speaking the tactile feedback is good and it is pleasing to see such a high profile game supporting the iFeel Mouse. There are even special challenges that are specific to those who own a mouse that support the Immersion TouchSense features. Black & White only gives us a glimpse of what is possible with the iFeel Mouse and while the tactile features of the mouse are for everybody it is of special interest to deaf gamers/ deaf computer users and I for one hope the technology goes on to be improved and be included in every game that is released in the not too distant future.