A physical networked mileage indicator for a computer mouse


MouseMiles is a networked mileage indicator for your mouse. Over time it calculates the mileage you have traveled and relays that information to a central server. The server collects all of the incoming mileage and outputs the distance in real-time to move a physical object – currently a model train around a track.


Jonah Brucker-Cohen

Digital Visions, 5/10/03 @ University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Turbulence.org, 3/18/03, NYC, NY.


MouseMiles By Jonah Brucker-Cohen


The idea behind MouseMiles centers around our connection to familiar objects (in this case a mouse) and how we share this connection and use with others across distance. The mouse is a fundamental input device to the modern computer. Despite our miniscule movements while using it, over time these movements measure up to long distances without us even noticing. MouseMiles attempts to collect and measure these movements (like similar applications including the Mouse Odometer , Kodo, a Linux Mouse Odometer,and the Odometer Applet), but instead of keeping them local to one machine, MouseMiles collects the information over the network to discover how our collected movements could be implemented on a large scale. The physical model train that moves in real-time is a testament that our small movements can and do have real-world consequences.


Digital Visions, 2003, UBC, Vancouver, CA.
Desktop Subversibles: The Mouse Awareness 4/3/03

MouseMiles worked on two levels:
a.) Web-based networked interaction
b.) Physical output over time

a.) Web-based networked interaction

When launched, the application automatically logs into
the server where it stays connected waiting for activity from the mouse. The application also configures itself for the width and height (in pixels) of each users screen to calculate the exact mileage being collected. Every 40 seconds or so, the miles are sent to the main server where an application keeps track of the collected distance traveled. Vertical (V), horizontal (H), and total (T) miles are tracked along with total number of laps of the train and collected total miles (TM) of everyone who has contributed to the miles.

b.) Physical output over time

In the physical space, the miles are collected and sent to a microcontroller which then allows power to flow to a model train. The train moves in real-time – both in speed and in distance according to the amount of change of miles coming in compared to the last input. As the train moves around the track, every lap it makes (approximately 10 ft = .001943 miles), it records the lap number and total mileage on an LCD screen and simultaneously sends the data back to each MouseMiles client. Therefore each user can see how their mileage measures up to the collective mileage and how far the train has moved over time.

Some pics from the installation of MouseMiles @ Media Lab Europe: