What are the different types of computer mouses (mice)?« Back to Questions List


A computer mouse does not require any introduction. It is a pointing device, used to control the movement of cursor on a computer monitor. It is normally a hand controlled input device.  The mouse detects two-dimensional motion relative to a surface and converts this as position of a pointer on display screen. This allows the user to have better control over different applications. A mouse works only on a computer with graphical user interface. 

Trackball is the first form of the present day computer mouse. It was invented in 1946 by Ralph Benjamin. The credit for the invention of the present day mouse goes to Douglas Engelbart of Stanford Research Centre and it was invented in 1963. The term computer mouse is derived due to the resemblance the device has to a mouse, with the connecting wire looking like the tail. 

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There are different types of mouses(mice) available in market at present. They come in different sizes and shapes. They can however be broadly classified under three categories.
1.    The mechanical mouse has a ball at the bottom of the component to detect the movement. The ball can move in any direction.
2.    The opto-mechanical mouse uses optical sensors to detect motion. 
3.    The optical mouse detects motion through an array of light emitting diodes (LED) or laser
The mouse can either be plugged in directly to the computer or it can be cordless which uses radio waves for communication between the computer and mouse. In a cordless mouse, a receiver that captures signals from the mouse is connected to the computer.  In all cases, the movements captured are converted to display on the screen using simple logic circuits and programmes.  

With the advancement in technology, various mice are being introduced to suit specific  requirements. 3D mice use ultrasound to detect motion in three dimensions. Recently introduced 3D spheric mouse uses the concept of a ball freely rotating in 3 axes.  Tactile mice contain a small actuator that causes vibration when crossing a window boundary. Pucks are devices used with tablet digitizers for absolute positioning. A vertical mouse provides optimum comfort to the user and avoids strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis etc. Gaming mice are devices designed specifically for computer games. They have wide array of buttons and controls. 

Laptops and touch screen phones do not employ mice, but they also function based on the principle of mouse to capture movements. 

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