A pointing device is any hardware component allowing a user to input spatial data into a computer. Graphical User Interface (GUI) and Computer-Aided design (CAD) system give users the freedom to control and feed data to laptops using physical gestures i.e. with a point, drag, or a click.
The pointing device is also known as “Pick device” because it picks the users choice on the screen by activating the switches (clicks) of the mouse. Moving a hand-held mouse or touchpad over the physical surface of the desktop moves a pointer (cursor) on the laptop screen.
Though the mouse is by far the most common pointing device, there are other kinds of pointing devices as well including trackpad, touchscreen, stylus, tracker ball, light-pen, pointing stick, data glove (hand gesture recorder).
All the pointing devices perform the functions pretty smoothly and it entirely depends on the user’s inclination and usability, where many users fancy a mouse as most suitable for their needs, others use trackpads, trackballs etc. as their primary pointing devices.
As I mentioned some of the pointing devices, a user has the liberty to choose from any pointing device to use with laptop computers. I’ll discuss the most commonly used pointing devices here. So let’s begin.
Types of Pointing devices
A mouse is undoubtedly the most commonly used computer pointing device. Douglas Engelbart introduced the “Mouse” in 1968 and called the name because the cord looks like a mouse’s tail. The mouse manipulates the on-screen arrow-shaped pointer. The operations by a mouse in hand of a user can be to select, change, or move an item on the screen.
A roller ball mouse produces a depression on the ball as the mouse moves that pressure causes the underside of the mouse to roll accordingly. Which in turn rotate the two small shafts inside the mouse which is measured by the sensors. The mouse’s “tail” – the connecting wire is then used to transmit the distance and direction information from the sensors to the laptop. That information, in turn, moves the arrow pointer on the screen following the movements of the mouse.
A mouse is primarily designed to fit the right hand of a person. Though some left-hand versions of the mouse are also available in the market. The mouse is equipped with usually two buttons and a spin/scroll wheel. There are different types of gestures possible to perform with a mouse. They are
- Point – the cursor over an item,
- Click – pressing the button
- Double-click – in a rapid succession pressing twice the button
- Right-click – press the right button
- Drag – moving the mouse while holding the mouse button
Though the conventional roller ball mouse has lost its charm and now being replaced with more sophisticated and accurate pointing devices like the laser and optical mouse. But with the technological tweaking, the basics are the same as per design and the objective are concerned.
Types of mouse
A computer mouse that is wrapped around your fingers, feels pretty awkward. It sure gets little fiddly to get used to this small futuristic ring. It is strapped around your index finger with buttons operated with a thumb. Connected with a Bluetooth connection to your laptop it can work as far at a distance of 30 feet.
You just have to move your hand left, right, up or down, crosswise and making an arc the device gets pretty exciting to use. Though will all its charm it has some lagging as well i.e. it gets clunky after a little use. It can be very handy while traveling and being the kind of person that hates using the usual trackpad or without any room to carry a regular mouse.
It is a type of mouse allowing users to control the cursor and buttons with their feet. Its primarily made for the people with limited or entirely no use of their hands. It can also be used to increase the productivity of the person by giving freedom to hands with a keyboard and mouse to be controlled by feet.
It works in pretty much like the conventional mouse. They consist of two parts, where one can be used to click or select and second, is used for cursor movement.
A camera mouse effectively replaces the conventional mouse. It’s a software mouse giving users the flexibility to use just their head as the tracking device, where the movements of the head are translated into cursor movements on the screen. Resting the cursor on an icon for a fixed amount of time generates the click.
Camera mouse is for people with physical disabilities with hands. All you need for the working of the camera mouse is a Windows system and a working webcam.
EagleEyes mouse is an assistive technology pointing system for people with severe muscular disabilities i.e. Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and Cerebral Palsy. This technology requires only eye movements serving as a mouse replacement system. It uses the electro-oculographic potential to measure the position of the eye relative to the head.
This system enables disabled people in communication, learning purposes.
Touch screen is a pointing screen which functions as an input device. Used by touching with a finger or a stylus pen. Allowing the user to directly interact with the content shown on the screen without needing the use of any third or intermediate device to move the cursor on the screen. There are different types of touch screens available i.e. resistive, surface acoustic wave, and capacitive.
The touch screen works with registering any touch event by a finger or stylus pen as a pressure point and sending the signal to the controller for taking appropriate action, while other touch screen types use an infrared beam to sense the presence of a finger on the screen. It has smoothly replaced the mouse as a pointing device on modern systems.
The most common actions performed on the touch screen are tap, double-tap, touch and hold, drag, swipe, and pinch.
It’s a stick which has a spherical ball on both ends, the outer ball is held by the person while the lower spherical ball moves in a socket. It can be rotated to all four directions. That direct the movements of the cursor on the screen. It is predominantly used for gaming or graphics applications.
Used to perform direct or precise pointing functions, it has different types. Like hand operated joystick, finger operated joystick, displacement joystick.
It’s a small knob present on some keyboards in the middle. It works just like a small isometric joystick. When you press it and move it towards or away from you in any direction it moves the arrow pointer on the screen.
It almost doesn’t take any space on the keyboard and fits right in the middle of the keys and also for using a very little movement of the hand is needed. First introduced by IBM it is now incorporated by many manufacturers in their laptops. It is used in combination with a laptop touchpad to facilitate the user experience.
It’s a rectangular pad sitting right below the keyboard. With a touch of the finger, you can move the pointer around the screen and select items. Pressing lightly for right and left clicks and moving as fast as you can move your fingers across the pad. They are the more adaptable and movable alternative of the conventional pointing device with ease of use.
The principle of coupling capacitance is utilized in touchpads, which require a conductive pointer like a finger. It’s an inherent pointing device on all laptops, providing a flat small surface for the fingers to slide over. With two buttons below the touchpad in most laptops which emulate the left and right buttons of a mouse. The touchpad has gestures and multitouch functions.