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A mouse is computer hardware used for navigation through files displayed on the computer screen. The standard mouse has two buttons and a scroll ball. The two buttons are used to select actions on the screen by clicking on either of the buttons for different functions. Most computer user interfaces allow users to customise the functions of the two buttons on the mouse. One of the advantages of using a mouse is its ability to simplify navigation through files and folders on a computer by simply pointing and clicking. The main disadvantage and limitation of using a mouse is its space requirement. A mouse cannot be used in an area without ample physical space to drag and scroll (El Kaliouby & Robinson, 2003).
A foot mouse is a specialised type of a mouse that is operated by the feet. Users with disabilities mainly use the foot mouse. The design of a foot mouse depicts a footpad with several buttons that serve different purposes. The footpad also has a navigation ball that is rolled to the foot to move the cursor on a computer screen. There is also afoot mouse for computer experts who prefer using their feet to free their hands for higher performance in different activities on their computers.
The advantage of using a foot mouse is that it enables the disabled people to enjoy the easier navigation on their computers. Its disadvantage is that it takes a lot of time for the user to master the manipulation of a foot mouse. Its main limitation is its requirement for larger working spaces because it is larger than a normal mouse ((El Kaliouby & Robinson, 2003).
Joysticks are input devices used to control characters in computer games. A joystick comprises of a control column that is attached to a base that allows easy rotation of the stick. The stick normally has other support buttons used for different purposes like executing moves in the game. Joysticks work under the principle of motion whereby the characters on the screen move in a similar manner as the motion executed by the user on the joystick. The advantage of using a joystick is that it acts as a central control centre for gaming users. The buttons are attached to a stick, making it easy for the user to execute moves easily. The disadvantage of using a joystick that becomes tiring because the user has to keep moving his or her hand. Its limit is the availability of working space (El Kaliouby & Robinson, 2003).
A trackball operates like a mouse. The standard trackball is made of a socket with a rolling ball and several buttons. The trackball looks like an inverted mouse, and it is very easy to navigate using the device. A trackball user utilises his palm and fingers to get through files on a computer screen. A person using a computer rolls the ball, and the cursor on the screen move to the required place while clicking on the buttons where required. The main advantage of using a trackball over a mouse is its ability to eliminate the large working space requirement. A trackball operates on a static point; hence, it does not require large working spaces. Its disadvantage is it requires more accuracy and expertise in navigation because a slight touch on the ball moves the cursor (El Kaliouby & Robinson, 2003).
Touch screens are modern interactive screens that act both as input and output devices. Touch screens are specialised to allow users to control computers by touching the screen to execute commands. Some touch screens use a special stylus, whereas others respond to the touch of a finger. Technological growth has seen the development of multi-touch touch screens that allow users to use several fingers simultaneously to operate computers. Touch screens operate through screen sensors that manipulate touch signals through special firmware. The main advantage of using touch screen technology is that it eliminates the need for other input hardware devices. There is no need for the user to purchase a keyboard or a mouse if a computer has a touch screen. The disadvantage of using touch screens is that they are quite fragile, and they can easily break and lose their sensitivity (El Kaliouby & Robinson, 2003).
A light pen is an interactive computer input hardware that utilises light and the CRT display technology. A wand with light-sensitivity is used to input data through a CRT display screen. The advantage of using a light pen is that it allows users to enter data freely into the computer. It is also easy to use. The limitation is that computers may fail to recognise some patterns when a user is entering data (El Kaliouby & Robinson, 2003).
A touchpad is an alternative to a mouse in laptops and other computer devices. It is an input device that controls a cursor on a computer screen. Computer users operating a touchpad move their fingers across the touch-sensitive pad, and the movement translates onto the output screen. The advantage of using a touchpad is the elimination of the requirement for large spaces to operate a mouse. The main disadvantage is that just like a mouse, users have to keep shifting the position of their fingers to scroll down long files (El Kaliouby & Robinson, 2003).
El Kaliouby, R., & Robinson, P. (2003). Real Time Gesture recognitions in Affective Interfaces. In M. Rauterberg M., Menozzi & J. Wesso (Eds.). Human-computer Interaction, INTERACT ’03: IFIP TC13 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, 1st-5th September 2003, Zurich, Switzerland (pp. 950-957). Amsterdam: IOS Press. Web.