Computer Mice and Pointing Devices Information


Computer mouse and other pointing devices cover industrial computer peripherals for controlling cursor and other features of visual computer interfaces like WindowsTM.

Types of Computer Mice and Pointing Devices

Pointing devices are available in a variety of forms such as:

Foot mouse - A foot mouse is a completely foot-operated pointing device usually consisting of two pads.

Standard computer mouse - A standard mouse is a desktop device that uses a ball and/or an optical sensor to sense the movement of the operator's hand across the desktop. The Microsoft 2-button mouse and the Logitech 3-button mouse are well known example of these types of products for use in office or commercial type applications. These "standard" type mice often are not ruggedized enough for industrial or kiosk type applications. Some of these devices may also utilize a trackball.

Mouse keypad - A mouse keypad is a small keypad module with keys to control cursor movement.

light pen

Light pen - A light pen is an input device that utilizes a light-sensitive detector to select objects on a display screen. A light pen is similar to a mouse, except that with a light pen the pointer can be moved and objects can be selected on the display screen by directly pointing to the objects with the pen.

Joystick - A joystick is a lever that moves in all directions and controls the movement of a pointer or some other display symbol. A joystick is similar to a mouse, except that with a mouse the cursor stops moving as soon as the mouse is stopped. With a joystick, the pointer continues moving in the direction that the joystick is pointing. To stop the pointer, it must be returned to its upright position. Most joysticks include two buttons called triggers.

Touchpad - Touchpads allow for mouse movement simply by dragging a fingertip across a surface. Beneath this surface are grid-like array of sensors, which detect the skin of a person. Touchpads use a technology called field distortion sensing, a form of capacitance-sensing technology. When the surface is touched, the fingertip distorts the electrical field at that spot. Tapping on the pad or buttons provides the same function as a mouse click - icon selection.

Trackball - To move the pointer of a trackball pen, the ball is rotated with the thumb, fingers, or the palm of the hand. There are usually one to three buttons next to the ball, which are used just like mouse buttons.

Configuration Mounting Style

panel mount

Configurations available for computer mouse and other pointing devices include desktop, handheld, keyboard mount, OEM kits or modules, and panel mount.

  • Desktop - Enclosed or encased pointing device configured for desktop, tabletop or benchtop applications.
  • Handheld - Handheld or miniature pointing devices.
  • Keyboard mount - Units designed for keyboard mounting.
  • OEM Kit / module - Kits or modules for OEM product integration or evaluation. For example, one type of OEM pointer kit consists of a silicone rubber overlay, printed circuit board, controller and connecting cable. The kits do not have an enclosure, case or front panel adapter plate. The OEM design engineer supplies the panel or enclosure. Hence, the units are also known as uncased or back panel mounted units.
  • Panel Mount - Pointing device on a flat frame or adapter plate for mounting on the top or front surface of a keyboard or an OEM designed instrumentation or equipment panel.

Interface Options

Choices for computer mouse and other pointing devices interfaces include Sun, IBM PS/2 or AT, serial, parallel, USB, internal or Apple desktop bus.


Features to consider when searching for computer mouse and other pointing devices include:

  • Design
    • Left hand only devices are best used with only the left hand.
    • Right hand only devices are best used with only the right hand.
    • Left and right hand devices can be used interchangeably with the right or left hand.
  • Wireless configuration means the device does not need a cable to connect to and transmit data to the computer system. Data is transmitted by RF, infrared or microwave signals.
  • Application software can be included with the pointing device.
  • Intrinsically safe devices are suitable for hazardous environments where explosive or combustible materials may be present.
  • EMI or EMC tested or rated devices are designed to pass or meet one or more of the following tests, standards or rating for electromagnetic conditions.


Computer mouse and other pointing devices are used in industrial and commercial applications. Common applications for computer mouse and other pointing devices include general purpose, industrial or factory automation, kiosk or POS, marine or shipboard, medical, military or aerospace, telecommunications, and vehicular.

Image credits:

Indukey North America | |  BEI Sensors


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