We've seen a number of creative uses for multi-touch technology in recent times, from the gesture-controlled interface on Apple's iPhone (and the wave of devices that followed), to its use in tablet computers, laptop tackpads and less mainstream devices like Microsoft's surface. With the launch of Windows 7 just around the corner and all the hype that surrounds it, we expect to see a lot more of this trend.

Microsoft's hardware research team recently unveiled five mouse prototypes aimed at taking advantage of multi-touch computing. One concept dubbed the Orb Mouse, for example, comes equipped with an internal camera to recognize finger gestures across its hemispherical surface. In contrast, the Side Mouse requires minimal contact with the user's hand and instead uses the company's proprietary SideSight technology to detect finger and hand movements around the device.

The most bizarre-looking of the bunch, the Arty Mouse, uses three optical mouse sensors to track movements of the wrist, thumb and index finger independently, allowing the manipulation of 3D objects on screen. You can catch an 8-minute video after the jump to get a better idea of how each mouse works.

Needless to say these are all still in prototype stage and there are no plans of commercializing the designs anytime soon. Most of them are probably not even fit for everyday use, but multi-touch technology in mice could hold promise under certain scenarios.