Assuming it’s already got an ergonomic enough design, like most modern offerings, you probably don’t give much thought to your computer mouse. But to others, like professional gamers, the size, shape, and performance of a mouse can help or hinder their job, so a Toronto-based company called Formify has come up with a way to create custom mice that are tailored to perfectly fit to every user’s unique hand.
If you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks instead of just grabbing the cheapest option at Best Buy, you can already find high-end mice that offer some degree of customizability: whether it’s adjusting the mouse’s weight, swapping in buttons that offer a different tactile response, fine-tuning its speed and response through software settings, or even changing its physical shape with swappable body panels.
What Formify is instead proposing is a mouse that, right out of the box, perfectly matches the shape and contour of every single user’s hand, without the company ever actually having to scan, measure, or even see it in person. Reminiscent of Dr. Scholl’s custom 3D-printed shoe inserts from a few years ago that were created using photos of a user’s feet, Formify claims that users only need to submit a photo of their mouse-using hand, palm side up, with the fingers outstretched, and from there its “machine learning algorithms will then analyze the picture of your hand, taking into account factors such as finger length, width, and hand size to identify the optimal design for your performance mouse.”
Formify relies on HP’s Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) technology to 3D print the custom mice, using a process where a thin layer of resin powder is treated with an adhesive from an inkjet and then fused together using heat to create layer after layer in an additive manufacturing process. The resulting parts have a slightly rough texture to them, but lack the telltale layered striations that come from extrusion-based 3D printers. Users also have their choice of one of five different grip textures added during the printing process.
But function is just as important as form when it comes to a high-end performance mouse, so on the hardware side of things, Formify is using Kailh GM 8.0 micro switches under the buttons, a 26,000 DPI optical sensor with a tracking speed of 650 inches per second, and a rechargeable battery good for over two weeks of use. The overall weight of the mouse is estimated to be around 55 grams on average, although that will vary based on the size of each user’s hand.
Formify has taken the crowdfunding route to help bring its custom mice to market, with a Kickstarter campaign looking to raise just shy of $30,000 with a little over a month to go. The limited “Super Early Bird” pricing has the Formify Mouse going for about $142, with full pricing expected to be closer to $179 when it’s eventually available to a wider audience after it ships out to backers in December.
But as with any crowdfunded product, and especially those involving electronics and custom manufacturing, you’ll want to take that estimated delivery date with a healthy grain of salt. Unforeseen delays could pop up as the company moves towards the manufacturing process (assuming the Kickstarter is a success) so don’t be surprised or enraged if you don’t end up getting yours until 2024, or later, or never. It’s, unfortunately, happened before.