I remember as a kid my fascination with the gyroscope. My dad bought me one of those little toy models that you'd wind up with a string...

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I remember as a kid my fascination with the gyroscope. My dad bought me one of those little toy models that you’d wind up with a string. Pulling the string as hard as I could would spin the heavy little gyroscopic wheel inside its metal frame and the magic would begin.

One end had a recessed dimple in which you could insert a pencil point. I placed the gyroscope on the tip of a pencil and watched it balance perfectly. Even if I moved the pencil or changed the angle to an impossibly precarious one, the little gyroscope wouldn’t fall off. It would even sway in a rhythmic oscillation, but balanced it would remain.

On the other end was a small slot so that you could balance the gyroscope on a length of string. The little whirling device became the ultimate tightrope walker as it traveled back and forth between my hands.

Most of all, I remember how the gyroscope would resist any change when I held it. Twisting it in midair while spinning at full speed was difficult at best.

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That resistance to change in midair is the underlying bit of physics that makes Gyration’s latest GO 2.4 GHz Cordless Optical Air Mouse (www.gyration.com) work.

Most of today’s gyroscopes, especially like the ones inside the GO mouse, don’t spin as my old toy did. Instead they use tiny microvibrations along with microsensors that react to that resistance to change.

Couple all of that with additional sophisticated electronics that keep track of those movements and you have a mouse that works in midair.

The GO mouse works just like any other cordless optical mouse when it’s on a desk’s surface. Left and right buttons along with a clickable scroll wheel let you work as usual.

But that’s when the similarity ends. Pick up the GO mouse and hold in the trigger that’s positioned underneath. The GO’s extra length lets it rest comfortably in either hand when in this position. Holding-in the trigger places the GO mouse it its air mode.

Moving the GO mouse in any direction will cause the mouse pointer to move in the corresponding direction. Normally you would glide a mouse forward and back to move the mouse cursor up and down. With the GO mouse, you actually do move the mouse up and down for those directions. It’s very intuitive.

Your thumb now becomes the presser of the buttons instead of your index finger as it is naturally positioned to reach any of them at the top.

I found that pressing the buttons and scrolling the wheel with my thumb really didn’t take any additional adjustment time.

Then there is the Swipe button, centrally located directly beneath the scroll wheel. Holding the Swipe button down shifts the GO mouse into its Swipe mode. Making a swiping gesture in midair will cause a predefined action to occur. For example, if you were using a Web browser, making a quick, short swiping gesture to the left will cause the browser to go back one page. Swiping to the right will cause it to go one page forward.

If you are using it with a Media Center PC, the same motions could cause a digital recording to rewind or fast forward.

The included GyroTools software lets you define all buttons as well as the swiping gestures.

The GO Air Mouse works on both Windows and Macintosh and sells for $79.95.