Even with the prevalence of touchscreens and touchpads, no piece of input hardware can interact with a computer quite like the traditional mouse. Introduced as a prototype in 1964, the very first personal computer mouse has let users edit their Word documents, play video games, and altogether explore a digital world created by 1s and 0s. Take away your computer’s mouse, and you’ll discover just how hard it is to get any real work done (and no, switching to your laptop’s touchpad doesn’t count).
The computer is dependent on the mouse and vise versa — but what if you could integrate the two? While a trackpad roughly counts as a mouse being incorporated into a computer, YouTube creator Electronic Grenade has done the opposite and integrated a computer into a mouse:
Contained inside of this slightly-larger-than-a-traditional-mouse are a keyboard, a battery, and a 1.5-inch screen that lets users interact with the CPU unit housed within the mouse body—powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero. While the initial idea was to take a commercially-produced mouse and fit a computer inside of it, the required hardware needed Electronic Grenade to make a mouse of his own.
Using 3D printing, he was able to carve out a slot for the keyboard, hinges for the screen, and a power button for the computer. This goes without saying the mouse itself has all of the traditional mouse buttons, complete with a scroll wheel.
Booting up the computer requires a user to turn on the power switch and wait for a couple of seconds. Once it’s on, the low sensitivity of the mouse makes it pretty easy to navigate through the tiny screen. While it won’t be running high-end games or editing 100-megapixel Photoshop documents, simple programs like Notebook and low graphics games like Minecraft run like a dream…except after building for a couple of minutes, Minecraft promptly crashed — maybe a fix is on the way?
It isn’t the most practical build since the screen is so small — plus, using the computer can be cumbersome, but it’s the thought that counts.
Electronic Grenade is planning on making a future video detailing the design process of the mouse and how he fit all the components into it. You can find it as well as his other Raspberry Pi projects on his YouTube channel.