Mouse modern computer mice feature optical sensors that track the position of your mouse as you move it over a flat surface. But you know what else uses optical sensors? Cameras.
So can you use a mouse as a camera? Kind of. YouTuber Doctor Volt turned an old Logitech mouse into a camera. But it’s not exactly a good camera, and it’s not exactly easy to do. It’s still pretty impressive though.
Doctor Volt took apart the mouse, removed the circuit board and put it under a microscope to find information about the image sensor, which features an array of 18 x 18 photo diodes, which can theoretically give you a 324 pixel image.
But since the mouse isn’t designed to output visual data, Doctor Volt had to hook up an ESP32 microcontroller, monitor signals sent from the mouse and basically reverse engineer a protocol for turning that data into a low-res, highly pixelated image.
By applying interpolation software, he was able to improve the image quality a little bit to make objects more recognizable.
To top things off, he attached a wide-angle lens designed for a Raspberry Pi camera, and modified the shell of the computer mouse to allow everything to fit back inside. The end result is a mouse that’s… no longer useable as a mouse. But now it’s a camera… that’s barely usable as a camera.
In other words, there’s almost no reason to try this at home. But it’s a neat science project, and an entertaining video.