3D Connexion offers new device for the 3D world

Developed in conjunction with Google, mouse counterpart resembles and moves like an air hockey mallet. Photos: Navigator for the 3D world

3D Connexion, a subsidiary of Logitech, announced a new kind of peripheral for navigating virtual 3D spaces on Tuesday.

The SpaceNavigator, which resembles an air hockey mallet, offers an alternative to the mouse movement and keystroke combinations currently used to navigate 3D environments or move 3D objects.

SpaceNavigator

The device was developed in conjunction with Google so that it could work natively in Google Earth and

Using six optical sensors, the 3D navigator is not a replacement for a mouse, but intended for use in the mouse-free hand. (If you use the mouse with your right hand, you would simultaneously use the SpaceNavigator with your left.)

Users move through a 3D space by gripping the top of the SpaceNavigator and sliding it around, twisting it like a dial, tilting it, pressing down on the center of the mallet or slightly lifting it from its base, according to the San Jose, Calif.-based company. The device can also be used to manipulate 3D objects--enabling zooming, panning and rotating.

3D Connexion will be offering a personal version with online support--the SpaceNavigator PE--for $49, and a professional version with online, e-mail and phone support for $99.

This is not the first "form-follows-function" development to come out of Logitech this year. The company has introduced several new changes to its products that reflect the evolution in software and the Web 2.0 environment. In August, Logitech released several new peripherals kits intended to work in conjunction with Microsoft Vista, broadband phone service and applications in photo, video and audio creation.

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