Input Devices

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Keyboards are one of the many different types of input devices, and one of the most common. Most if not all keyboards are set up in an alphanumeric key arrangement, also referred to as a qwerty keyboard. There are a few different ways a keyboard can connect to a computer, either wired or wireless, via USB or Bluetooth respectively. For the most part all keyboards are similar to one another, some may have extra keys for games and others may have a numerical keypad built into the board itself.220px-Logitech_Gaming-Keyboard_G15

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While not all computing devices have keyboards they do have supplements, such as a on screen touch keyboard. Many phones have a slide out keyboard for those who prefer an actual physical keyboard. Speaking of physical keyboards, many tablets allow you to purchase a keyboard dock. All of these additional keyboards that you could add to devices are most likely membrane keyboards. Membrane keyboards are the cheapest and most common types of keyboards.

The other growing type of keyboards are mechanical keyboards. When you type on a membrane keyboard you complete a circuit which produces the data on screen, which generally makes little to no sound and gives no tactile feedback. For many gamers and avid typist, they would use a mechanical keyboard, which has the point of contact directly beneath the each key. This gives a better tactile feedback along with a faster typing speed, but generally cost much more than membrane keyboards.

Different Types of Keyboards
The purpose of all keyboards is to input data, however, there are as many different types of keyboards as there are variations of devices that need one. At first, there was only one design for a keyboard, but just as all other technology has progressed with time, so has the keyboard. The “original” keyboard, known as the standard keyboard, is the QWERTY keyboard, which is probably the most familiar to people. This keyboard has an average 105 keys, and while minor changes have been made to the design, its overall format has stayed the same.

Due to the stress put on the wrist and hand muscles from typing, the ergonomic keyboard was invented. This keyboard has the keys split so that the angle of the user’s wrist is in a more comfortable and less-straining position. By improving posture, the Ergonomic Keyboard is supposed to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It comes either as one separate board with pre-angled keys, or as two separate boards so the user can angle them any way he/she prefers.

The other types of keyboards that have come along have been produced to fit very specific uses. For example, a gaming keyboard, as the name suggests, is made specifically for gamers and has special designs such as built-in joysticks. Another example is the internet keyboard, which have “hot keys” related directly to browsing the internet. These hot keys include bookmarks list, e-mail inbox, Google search, and YouTube.

Lastly, there are keyboards made simply to be more convenient for the consumer. These include the wireless keyboard, which connects to a computer via Bluetooth, the compact keyboard, made for laptops and other portable devices, and the virtual (or touch screen) keyboard which is found mostly on mobile devices and tablets. The last one is the most recently developed and will most likely come to be the only type of keyboard in the future.

The History of Keyboards

The first keyboards were called QWERTY keyboards named after the six letters in sequential order on the top left hand side of the keyboard. Surprisingly, the keyboard was actually designed to make typing as slow and difficult as possible. This is due to the fact that the very first design of the first typing machine developed by a man named Christopher Latham Scholes back in 1873 was originally set up in alphabetical order. After some time, it was typical for keys to get jammed together due to fast typing. This prompted Scholes to redesign the machine with the letters most commonly used as far away from each other as possible to avoid jamming. By making the user slow down, his new design became a success.

It wasn’t until the 1960’s that a couple by the name of Bob and Joan Crozier came up with the idea that there was a need to integrate computer technology into business. At that time, there were only large mainframe computers available. The couple came up with a device that had keyboard switches, which led to more understanding about the growing need for such a device. By the 1970’s, the first keyboards were born. They had to be put together one switch at a time which was a lengthy process. Later in this decade, the first ever personal computers were developed. The keyboard was not attached to these computers so they required an IBM electric typewriter to be attached. By the 1980’s, IBM launched its first personal computers with their famous model M keyboards attached. This model came with some problems as it was criticized for its Enter and Shift keys being too small. IBM came up with keyboard expanders to fit the keyboard and enlarge the keys.

By the 1990’s, Membrane switches became available to replace individual keys. This was also the decade that the laptop computer became available, making Membrane Switches to increase in popularity. The last decade has seen advancement in the design of the keyboard with the release of ergonomic keyboards that lessen the chance for a user to be injured due to overuse. Today, the modern keyboard faces extinction as the use of touch screen devices and voice recognition are taking the center stage of computer input.

The Mouse
Pointing devices are inputs that connect to a desktop or laptop and are used to move an on-screen pointer, usually an arrow, to allow the user to select objects on the screen. The most common of these is the “mouse” which derives its name from its size, shape, and “tail”, or thin wire, which connects it to the computer. It’s usually connected via a USB port and it often rests next to the keyboard for easy access. Recently, laser “mice” have become popular due their added mobility as these connect via Bluetooth or other wireless connection and and no longer need their “tails” for support to the system.

Older mice have a ball at their base and use this to move the pointer on screen as the user’s hand moves the mouse across the desktop surface. Once the pointer is over the desired icon, link, or image, etc. the mouse is used to interact with it by clicking one of the two buttons on it’s surface. A wheel may also be found on some and is commonly used to scroll up or down a page or zoom in and out of a window. Optical mice use a laser on the bottom which track movement with light instead of a ball. Three dimensional mice may also be used to interact with three dimensional programs. These programs tend to recognize more complex movements and the mouse may be lifted to simulate flying or angled to simulate a visual tilt within the program.



Instead of using a mouse for a computer many systems allow there to be used a pen or stylus. The pens input could be drawing, writing, or tapping on the screen. The stylus often is just a piece of plastic and is just used to touch the screen and that’s it. The stylus could detect the amount of pressure that is applied to the screen that would allow you to have a more exact input. The stylus have a smooth rounded tip so it would not harm the screen it is used with, and could contain buttons so it could be similar to a mouse in that way and complete those type of functions. The stylus is used to be the most convenient like a pen a paper.

Areas like photography, graphic design, animation, industrial design, and healthcare are using the stylus to aid to their profession more. There are even certain gestures that a pen can read to complete a task. Such as flicking the pen up could delete something, or print, or copy. The pens are beneficial for people with long nails, or are wearing gloves; nothing more annoying than having to take off gloves in the winter to have to use a touch screen device.The Galaxy Note 3 has a pen stylus that it comes with. This phone allows the user to use the screen to its fullest since the screen is s large, the phone embraces being able to use two hands while doing something on the phone.

Touch Screens
Touch screens are electronic visual displays which allow a user to interact with programs by using simple touch-based movements. Through the use of a special stylus/pen and/ or one or multiple fingers, the user can interact with the content being displayed in multiple ways allowing actions such as scrolling, zooming, rotating, dragging, and dropping items to be handled with ease without the need for a pointer or mouse. Because the touch screen interface can be used with practically any PC software and is useful in a variety of applications, mobile phones, tablets, desktops, laptops, and surface computers have taken advantage of this technology. It can be found in museums, consumer kiosks, newsrooms, automated teller machines (ATMs), medical field, etc.

There are many touch screen technologies that have different methods of sensing touch, such as resistive, surface acoustic wave (SAW), capacitive, infrared grid, infrared acrylic projection, optical imaging, dispersive signal, and acoustic pulse recognition. They can recognize multiple inputs allowing for more than one person to operate the device at the same time as well as verify and pinpoint multiple objects that are place on them or near. Systems that use a stylus can recognize the differences in pressure applied to the screen and may even contain buttons to aid in “right-clicking” on an object. The stylus is one of the most popular accessories in the touch-screen age.

Other Pointing Devices
Examples of other pointing devices can be seen in gaming. A popular pointing device in video games is the joystick. Joysticks are moved by hand to point to an on-screen object, such as a character, and then a button or buttons are pressed to execute an action, for example jumping. Gamepads are also examples of pointing devices, performing similar functions to the joystick but held fully in hand instead.

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Another example of a pointing gaming device is a proprietary controller, such as the Wii remote. These devices are motion sensitive and require the controller to point into a sensor, which will move accordingly with an on-screen pointer. A trackball is a pointing device consisting of a ball in a socket, similar to an upside-down mouse, that the user rolls with the thumb, fingers, or palm. Trackballs are commonly seen on CAD workstations for ease of use. Control buttons and wheels are pointing devices commonly found on handheld gaming devices or portable digital media players. For instance, on an ipod, the user can spin the wheel to scroll though songs, and then click on the desired track. Touch pads are generally rectangular pads that a user can slide a thumb or fingertips across. Tapping the touch pad executes the same action clicking a mouse would. Touch pads are typically found on laptops and notebook computers.


A scanner is a device that copies a picture in digital form. After capturing the image, the data is transferred to the computer. People use scanners to store their hand held pictures in their computer, and one might scan a document for business, school, etc. The two main types of scanners are flatbed and portable scanners. A flatbed scanner is the most common type of scanner, and it is designed to scan flat objects. A portable scanner is designed for travel purposes.

A sheet fed scanner is much like the flatbed scanner, only this may now be immobile and be used in stores to scan items on shelves. Optical scanners capture the image of a usually flat object and transfer it to a computer, much like flatbed scanners. In order to produce a better quality image, as most people strive for in their printing, you need a higher resolution scanner.

The resolution of a scanner is measure in dots per-inch, which makes sense because the more dots you have, the more color that shows up, producing higher quality scans. Along with the resolution of a scanner comes the quality, which can be edited and improved once the image is scanned. If the user wants an extremely detailed scan, the drum scanner is a great tool to make this possible. It uses a photomultiplier tube to scan on a glass cylinder and send light rays in three beams, making light and color change and producing greatly detailed images. There are even apps on our phone that we can personally scan documents to have on-the-go. The problem with this, however, is privacy issues and the crisis of having your phone or any other device stolen which has scanned any personal information. While scanners are a tremendous help especially in businesses, it is important users be aware of the risks and use with caution.

Readers are designed to read the coding of different products. Readers are also called a “price scanner.” It is usually a hand held device that captures the barcode on a certain tag, sticker, or twitter/facebook code. UPC (Universal Product Code) and ISBN (International Standard Book Number) are the two most famous barcodes. Barcodes are essential for efficiency in different businesses.

QR Codes and RFID tags
QR codes, otherwise known as quick response codes, are pattern display bar codes read by an imaging device, that enable a user to automatically scan and open to an encoded hyperlink by using their “smart device”. QR reader applications on devices enable the user to access the hyperlink. The hyperlink opens up to a URL on the user’s device, displaying an image, or website. QR codes are often used by companies to allow the most efficient, least expensive way of advertisement for their product, company, event, website, etc. These codes enable a potential customer or user to access their information with convenience. QR codes are also used in other aspects to identify time tracking, item identification product tracking, as well as document management.

RFID codes, otherwise known as the Universal Product Code, in which the barcode is replaced by radio frequency identification tags, which allows communication between network systems that can track certain data or information. RFID codes are commonly used in our economy today in multiple different ways. In similarity to QR codes, RFID codes also allow a user efficiency time-wise as well as convenience-wise. Ways that RFID codes are used in our society consist of the following: inventory tracking, ticketing applications, mobile payments, as well as border security.

Digital Cameras
Almost every American owns a digital camera to save their memories! Digital cameras are used to take a picture, and these pictures are usually stored in a memory card. When purchasing a camera, it is important to know how many mega pixels the camera contains.For example, the higher the mega pixels, better the quality the picture will turn out. However, usually, the higher the mega pixels, the more expensive the camera will cost. People enjoy cameras because the pictures are almost immediately accessible.

Today, digital cameras are often found integrated into various mobile devices. When it comes to smartphones, the camera is often one of the most marketed features of the device. For instance, when shopping for a smartphone online, a website will often have an image that compares a picture taken by various competitor’s phones. The reason these cameras on smartphones are marketed to this extent is because they offer so many advantages to an average everyday consumer. A camera with the capability of snapping nice pictures allows someone to easily share daily activities to social media, scan barcodes at the grocery store, provide post-accident evidence for insurance, and so much more.

While a digital camera can snap still images, a digital video camera can record videos. Although portable digital camcorders are slowly becoming unpopular in the market, other types of these cameras are used every day. For example, these cameras are often used by buildings for surveillance, television networks for broadcasting, and companies for video conferences. However, each type of camera used in these situations are different. Cameras used for security purposes are usually able to operate remotely, and are often found to be smaller than other cameras so that they are more inconspicuous. Television networks use expensive professional cameras which have many different function and are very high performance. Cameras used for video conferencing are often webcam cameras. These cameras are small, usually portable, and can be integrated with a laptop. Overall, the digital video camera is a useful tool in today’s society.

Biometric Readers
Biometrics are objective, measurable, biological traits that can be used to identify somebody. Biometric identification is becoming more and more common, and individuals can be recognized by a computer based on everything from their eyes to their fingerprints, from their voice to their face, from their unique body odor to the shape of their ear. Some uses of biometrics include fingerprint scanners to protect sensitive information stored in databases at places like nuclear power plants, biometric identification at borders and on passports, identification at nightclubs to ensure people who have been banned can’t enter, and even at public schools to have stronger records of attendance and library book borrowing.

While biometric authentication is incredibly useful, there can also, obviously, be strong privacy concerns if their use is becoming too common. However, an organization called the Biometrics Institute is seeking to not only advance the use of biometrics but also ensure that all privacy concerns are addressed as this kind of technology becomes more and more common, with a set list of privacy guidelines that should be met whenever and wherever biometric identification is being employed.

Audio Input
Audio input is when audio data is put into a computer. Usually the audio that people put into computers is voice or music. Voice input is when words are spoken into a microphone on the computer and they are translated into the digital form via the microphone. Many people will use a sound recorder software to store the voice in a file. One thing that is becoming better known is speech recognition systems. An example of speech recognition being used is when you call a company and an automated voice recording answers and you speak to them and answer their questions and the computer is able to recognize what you are saying and take you where you need to go.

Many phones have speech recognition software that allows the user to speak their text message or anything else into their phone and the phone can type the text for them. However these programs are not perfect and they usually require the speaker to talk slowly and clearly. One new technology that is being developed has to do with computers picking up noises the hard drive is making and detecting if there are any problems. One way to input music into a computer is to input it from a CD. They also have keyboards that can be plugged into the computer and the sound can be inputted into the computer. With that technology they can also show the sheet music that was played.

Speech Recognition
There are many different ways in which speech recognition systems work. One type of system is a speaker-independent speech recognition software which works no matter the user. Another type of system is a speaker-dependent system in which uses training to analyze a specific users voice. The system is then able to adjust to nuances in a persons voice and fine-tune the speech recognition. Another system is voice-recognition systems which are very similar to speaker-dependent systems in that they are dependent upon the speaker, but instead, they mostly focus on who is speaking rather than what they are saying. These types of systems are primarily used in personal security systems.

Speech-recognition software is used to ease the users use of the computer and allow users the freedom of not having to use a keyboard or mouse to navigate through a computer system. Speech-recognition software can be used to perform many tasks including opening applications, making calls, calculating the amount of teaspoons in a cup, and even finding the nearest Chipotle. Today, the use of speech recognition systems are greatly advancing due to their incorporation in mobile devices such as Apple’s Siri and Windows Cortana. Also, speech recognition software has been included within the makings of cars due to regulations that require drivers to use hands-free devices to avoid distraction from the road.

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