The Secret Behind The Motion Of Microsoft’s Bendy Mouse

The Surface Arc is a designed-for-travel mouse that carries flat, but curves into shape for use. It even turns on when it’s bent and shuts itself off when it’s flat. The device isn’t particularly new, but [Mr Teardown] was a bit surprised at the lack of details about what’s inside so tears it down in a video to reveal just how the mechanism works.

The mechanism somewhat resembles a beaver’s tail, and locks into place thanks to a magnetic connector at the base that holds the device’s shape.

The snap-action of the bending is accomplished with the help of a magnetic connection near the bottom end of the mouse’s “tail”, locking it into place when flexed. Interestingly, the on and off functionality does not involve magnets at all. Power control is accomplished by a little tab that physically actuates a microswitch.

There are a few interesting design bits that we weren’t expecting. For example, there is no mechanical scroll wheel. The mouse delivers similar functionality with touch sensors and a haptic feedback motor to simulate the feel and operation of a mechanical scroll wheel.

[Mr Teardown] finds the design elegant and effective, but we can’t help but notice it also seems perhaps not as optimized as it could be. There are over 70 components in all, including 23 screws (eight different kinds!), and it took [Mr Teardown] the better part of 45 minutes to re-assemble it. You can watch the entire teardown in the video embedded just under the page break; it’s a neat piece of hardware for sure.

If you’re in the mood for another mouse teardown, we have a treat for you: an ancient optical mouse from the 80s that required a special surface to work.

[via Core77]

7 thoughts on “The Secret Behind The Motion Of Microsoft’s Bendy Mouse

  1. It’s wild how complicated the construction is, and I’d love to understand the process that leads to that, especially in an object that’s had so much design attention put into it.

    I feel like someone could write a whole book comparing Microsoft and Apple’s industrial design. Apple makes excellent hardware in general, but they despise anything visibly mechanical, and for some reason every mouse they ever made was dogshit. Microsoft mostly doesn’t make hardware at all, yet somehow they’re a leader in the specific fields of (1) hinges and (2) mice. Everyone wants to make movies about boring Steve vs. Bill gossip, but I bet this story would be a lot more interesting.

    1. I spent a not-insignificant sum of my income on one of the new wireless Apple
      touch mice with the little itty bitty micro ball scroll thing. It was an absolute disaster in every way. I’m still mad that I got duped on that one. I should have learned from the circular iMac mouse that was an ergonomic disaster. Apparently hating on Mac mice not a unique thing.
      But explain how their trackpads are the greatest thing ever. !!

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