How Is a Computer Mouse Made?

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How a Mouse Works

  • A mouse is comprised of a variety of parts that lend themselves to overall functionality. First, there are the externals. A hard plastic body consitutes the outside of the mouse, and the wire or tail that comes out of it is the electrical cable that connects the device to the computer. On the bottom of each mouse is a device that allows for the tracking of the unit. Years ago, this device was typically a rubber ball that tracked movement. The ball would roll along the surface and determine horizontal and vertical motion. A wheel also turns when this movement is detected, and infared signals are sent as a result, from an LED (light emitting diode) to a detector. These are translated into electrical pulses that are then shot along to the integrated circuilt within the mouse. The circuit then tells the mouse that movement has occurred in a certain direction, and movement occurs on screen to match.

Optical and Laser Mouse

  • Newer models include either an optical or laser device that reads movement on a trackpad and react accordingly. This provides a greater level of precision and reliability. Whether it is a laser, optical or ball-based mouse, the signals are all sent to a circuit located on the printed circuit board--or the computer circuit, for short. All the transmissions are then interpreted by the computer circuit, and the required actions are taken.

Mouse Driver

  • The key to the interpretation of signals is the mouse driver, which acts as the software of the device. The mouse driver instructs the computer on how to manage the integrated circuit's commands.

Evolution in Design

  • In the last few years, mouse design has evolved and altered the basic design of the devices. While most mouse designs have included two buttons for left and right clicking, units from Apple in recent years (the Mighty Mouse) have featured one button that can determine whether a right or left click is being initiated. Additionally, in laptop design, the included mouse has been replaced with the trackpad, which replicates the design of the conventional mouse. However, even trackpad designs have evolved of late, and they no longer directly mimic mouse design. Apple's latest line of Macbooks include a multi-touch trackpad that foregoes conventional buttons and instead relies on the user to use multi-finger gestures to send the same information to the computer. One, two, three and even four fingers are used to replicate not only left and right click functions, but a variety of additional functions used to provide ease of operation to the consumer.

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