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A Better Mouse

Late in the year of 1999, Agilent Technologies introduced a new type of computer mouse to the world. Known as an optical mouse, this computer mouse contains a teensy camera which takes thousands of photos per second. The optical mouse needs no mouse pad and can work on most surfaces.

Surface Detail

The majority of the optical mice work by using a miniscule red LED (light-emitting diode) which sends light to the table or surface on which the mouse rests. This light then moves onto a CMOS (complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensor. A newer type of optical mouse is based on lasers which can see greater surface detail as compared to the LED technology. This makes the laser-based optical mouse more versatile than the LED type of optical mouse, since it can be used with a greater variety of surfaces.

Effective Communication

The sensor must communicate with the other components of the optical mouse in order for the mouse to be effective. Here's how it works:

*Each image is sent by the CMOS sensor to a DSP (digital signal processor) where images are analyzed.

*Patterns in the images are detected by the DSP which can tell how these patterns have changed or moved in relation to earlier images.

*The DSP is able to calculate the distance the mouse has traveled through the analysis of the patterns and their movements and sends the coordinates to your computer.

*The computer responds by moving the cursor that you see on your screen according to the coordinates sent to it by the mouse. Since this process occurs several hundred times each second, the cursor's movements seem very smooth.

Decreased Risk

Optical mice trump the classic track-ball mice for several reasons:

*Optical mice have no mechanical parts meaning a decreased risk for failure.

*Dirt can't enter the internal workings of the mouse and interrupt the ability of the sensors to track movement.

*The sensors work with a higher resolution which ensures a more fluid response.

*The optical mouse needs no mouse pad to do its thing. It works on just about any surface.

There is another variety of optical mouse that has been in existence for more than ten years. This type of mouse preceded the type most people use today. The original optical mouse bounces light beams off a shiny-surfaced mouse pad onto a sensor. The special mouse pad is designed with a grid of dark lines. When the mouse moves, the light beams hit the grid which serves as an interruption. Each time this interruption occurs, the sensor passes on the information to the computer causing the cursor to move in an amount corresponding to the coordinates of the received signal.

More Dependable

The drawback of this type of optical mouse is in the necessity to hold the mouse at just the right angle to align the light beam and the sensor. Another problem with this type of optical mouse relates to the need for the special mouse pad. If the pad becomes damaged in any way, the mouse becomes useless until a replacement mouse pad can be acquired. The newer type of optical mouse is more dependable and more user-friendly.

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