20 years later, the 'Useful MOUSE association' (in some cases, the children of the group members) emerged from obscurity, announcing that they had devised a prototype for version 4 of MOUSE. Some people questioned their use of the MOUSE acronym, because of the bad memories attached to the name, and the fact that no-one knew what it stood for. Although the group realised the name carried bad connotations for the previous generation of users, they felt that the new generation, who were oblivious to the problems of the past, would embrace the name as standing for the cute and personable product they had devised.
It was later revealed to the technicians that the 'MOUSE legacy' was being taught in schools across two thirds of the galaxy. The group responded by asking "Since when do kids remember anything from school?". No-one was able to provide a date, so the group continued unfazed.
Apparently, during their absence, the group had analysed the technical specs for MOUSE, the intelligence algorithms, and the voice recognition techniques, crossed-referenced them with all the paper work they had on information that causes MOUSE to misbehave, and came to a conclusion which explained the whole problem. As phrased by the leader of the group- "MOUSE has a lot of power and control over systems, as well as a great deal of technical knowledge, but not a single ounce of common sense."
As an example, they said that MOUSE realised that detonating explosive materials was the fastest way to remove them, but couldn't fathom that people preferred the slower, harder method of actually moving the material to a safer location. This was considered the most important realisation of the decade, and paved the way for version 4 of MOUSE to be released.
Version 4 of MOUSE utilised a completely reworked AI system in it's voice recognition and command translation subsystems, which actually thought through the possible repercussions of the command, and internally re-phrased the message several times until it could find the most plausible connotation for the command, based on conditions and safety concerns. Sometimes, in difficult cases, it asked for confirmation from the speaker which, by itself, increased the accuracy of it's translations over 40%.
No-one was quite sure how much they trusted the new system until, in a famously brave decision, the head of marketing for MOUSE ran a demonstration for the new model.
He set up a room in which there were several very deadly projectile weapons aimed at a central point, and set up a dummy in front of them, equipped with a speaker. Using the speaker, the demonstrator had the dummy ask MOUSE version 3 for a bullet. The dummy was promptly, and repeatedly, shot by the weapons.
He then replaced the dummy with himself, and removed the version 3 MOUSE in favour of an off-the-shelf version 4. After he spoke the phrase "I need a bullet", MOUSE replied "What calibre cartridge do you require from storage?". This went far in cementing the public trust in version 4.
The demonstration was also the first step in the wildly successful "MOUSE won't kill you anymore" campaign, which usually consisted of employees going to city squares, asking MOUSE ambiguous questions as well as giving it odd commands, and watching the horrified looks on the locals faces before they realised that, in fact, MOUSE wasn't going to kill them.
Also improved in version 4 was the crew member recognition system. This was done mainly by simply increasing the resolution of the visual sensors, as well as combining visual data with voice recognition to improve identification rates. Also, MOUSE checked with the main computers security sensors to make sure that this was the one and only copy of the identified crew member on the ship, and that they were where they were supposed to be. This reduced the security risk posed by a wandering MOUSE unit enormously, making it once again safe for use in government systems.
Finally, MOUSE was freed from the restrictions of the wire paths, mainly due to the fact the it's improved visuals allowed it to navigate better, and also because it included a locator tag which could be used to find or guide MOUSE anywhere on the ship.
Shortly after the release of version 4, almost all governments posted recall notices (and in some instances, bounties) on all previous versions of MOUSE, declaring them as a 'menace to all society'. All people returning previous versions were issued with a version 4 replacement, free of charge. In fact, the governments were subsidising these replacements, anything to get rid of the old ones.
Version 4 had great success in re-capturing the once-terrifying "Computer-Human Interaction: Robotic Product" (CHIRP) market, and all was right in the galaxy.
The 'Useful MOUSE Association' handed the plans to their production team, and gave them explicit instructions not to let the marketing department anywhere near them. They then left the capital of the newly-resurrected MOUSE empire, bound for parts unknown, warm in the knowledge that they had righted the wrongs of the MOUSE project, and promising to work on new, helpful features, perfect for the perfect universe.
MOUSE Version 4 Statistics:
Height: Approx 1.5 units
Weight: 200 pounds (100 Kilograms)
Power: Self contained battery, with approx 60 minute maximum charge, recommended recharge after 30 minutes.
Connection to external power through large 2-pin power connector located at rear of the unit.
Movement: 6-wheeled design, powered by electric motors (one motor per side of the unit, driving the front two sets of wheels, rear set are free-wheeling)
- Complete AI overhaul. MOUSE won't kill you anymore!
- Visual upgrades. Small optical sensors, integrated into the unit, provide MOUSE with a high-definition view of the world.
- Superior recognition. MOUSE can now combine techniques, as well as use common sense, to recognise crew members and voice phrases with astounding accuracy!
- Wireless design. MOUSE can roam free with its improved visuals and unique locator tag, reporting back to base with an external antenna.
- Stylised dual speaker design. Smaller, sleeker speakers for interacting with users
- Centralised Voice processing. Voice recognition handled by central computer for greatest efficiency.
- Extended battery life. Internal battery design makes MOUSE more versatile.
Notes: MOUSE Version 3 and below are now considered dangerous, and should be returned immediately for a free upgrade. If return not possible, destroy old MOUSE and send proof for a free MOUSE Version 4!