User Data Input
Author: Sabah Sobh
1. Definition of User Data Input
2. Methods of User Data Input
  • 2.1 Mouse
    • 2.1.1 The First Mouse
    • 2.1.2 Mechanical Mouse (ball mouse)
    • 2.1.3 Optical Mouse
    • 2.1.4 Education
  • 2.2 Keyboard
    • 2.2.1 Chorded Keyboard
    • 2.2.2 Software Keyboard
    • 2.2.3 Foldable Keyboard
    • 2.2.4 Projection/Laser Keyboard
  • 2.3 Touch Screen
    • 2.3.1 Uses
    • 2.3.2 How Touch Screens Work
    • 2.3.3 Resistive Touchscreen
    • 2.3.4 Capacitive Sensing
  • 2.4 Microphone
  • 2.5 Joystick
3. Resources
4. References

1. Definition of User Data Input

User data input could be any source of input from a user into a computer or any other data processing machine via an attached external device. The external device could be attached physically with a cord or transmitted wirelessly via bluetooth, WiFi, or infrared. The data processing machine computes the information that the user inputs and emits a response. The user then interacts with the information via the attached external input device.

2. Methods of User Data Input

2.1 Mouse

In computing, a mouse is a pointing device that functions by detecting two-dimensional motion relative to its supporting surface. (Wikipedia). The motion of the mouse by the user translates to a movement on a display such as a computer screen. Computer mouses come in a combination of styles and shapes, but two buttons are usually a standard feature in mouses. More recently, a wheel is often featured as well, which sometimes functions as an extra button when pressed. The mouse wheel is generally used for scrolling up or down pages.

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This mouse wheel is not to be confused with this mouse wheel.
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The First Mouse:

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The first mouse was built in 1963 by Douglas Engalbart and Bill English at the Stanford Research Institute. Because of how the device looked, Engalbart decided to call it a "mouse". The device resembled a common mouse with the wire sticking out of the body like a mouse's tail. The first mouse could move on only one axis and was designed to be used with one hand while the other hand types into a chord keyset that has five keys, which presumably controls the cursor placement on the computer screen.

Mechanical Mouse (ball mouse):

The mechanical mouse, or ball mouse, was invented in 1972 by Bill English, who also helped develop the first mouse with Engalbart a few years prior. The ball mouse is exactly as it sounds: namely it has a single ball in the center of it that allows the user to move it in any direction on a surface. When the mouse is moved across a surface, then the ball in the mouse moves as well, rotating the three rollers that are attached to the ball. When the rollers move, they mouse sends a signal indicating the coordinate movement of the mouse to the computer's internal processor. This in turn, displays a cursor movement on the computer screen.

Optical Mouse:

Similar to the ball mouse, the optical mouse also detects the user's coordinate movement change and sends signals to thecomputer, which then also displays a cursor movement on the computer screen. The difference between the optical mouse and the ball mouse is that there is no ball or rollers in the optical mouse. The optical mouse uses an LED (light emitting diodes) or laser to first emit light and then to detect any movement of the surface underneath the mouse from the light that is emitted.

Optical Mouse VS. Mechanical Mouse

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Mouse Use in Education:

The computer mouse is great for developing hand-eye coordination in young students. It's especially great for helping developmentally disabled students learn better coordination. Shimizu, Yoon, & McDonough (2010) conducted a study in which they taught seven preschoolers with developmental disabilities to point and click with a mouse. Modified mouses have also been developed for students with disabilities who cannot effectively maneuver a standard computer mouse. One of these types of mouses comes in the form of a mouse wheel that has a specialized developed mouse driver. Shih, Chang, & Shih (2009) used a mouse wheel to see if people with multiple disabilities and minimal motor behavior would be able to enhance their pointing usage.

2.2 Keyboard

The computer keyboard is the most commonly used and most useful device for directly inputting information into a computer. The keyboard is used to type texts and numbers into a word processing software or any other software. The computer could also be programmed to take each key on the keyboard as a separate command for the computer to follow. There exist many different types of keyboards for special uses.

Chorded Keyboard:

external image Stenkeys.gifChorded Keyboards associate actions with combinations of key presses, instead of associating one action with each key pressed. They are designed for people who need to type fast with the least number of keystrokes. Courtrooms utilize a stenotype keyboard, which is a chorded keyboard, as pictured on the left. Chorded keyboards are designed for quick typing with syllables instead of one key at a time.

Software Keyboard:

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Software keyboards come in the form of on screen keyboards on computers, mobile phones, tablets, and other such devices. Data are typically entered into software keyboards by a mouse or a touch screen device.

Foldable Keyboard:

These keyboards are made of either silicone or soft plastic that can be rolled up or folded for travel. They are typically water resistant and are used with smartphones, laptops, and other portable devices.

Projection/Laser Keyboards:

A projection keyboard is a keyboard that is projected onto a hard surface by a projector. A sensor "sees" a user's finger presses a key and sends the information to the computing device as a letter that is pressed.

2.3 Touch Screen:


A touch screen is a display that can detect the presence and location of a touch within the display area. Touch screens are usually used with the finger, hand, or stylus. They are very common today and come in the form of smartphones, tablet computers, personal data assistants (PDA), GPS devices, and/or all in one computers.

Touch screen devices allow for the use to directly interact with the software without going through an external source such as a keyboard or mouse.They are especially good for use with young children or students that have special needs.

How Touch Screens Work

Resistive Touchscreen:

Resistive touchscreen devices have many layers. The most important layers are two thin layers that easily conduct electricity, separated by a narrow gap. When the user pressed on a point on the outer surface, the two layers connect, causing an electric jolt in the panel. This causes a change in the electrical current of the device, which tells the processor in the device that an area in the surface was touched.

external image Resistive-Touch-Screen.gifexternal image Capacitive-Touch-Screen.png

Capacitive Sensing:

A capacitive sensing device consists of a glass screen which is coated with a transparent conductor. When a user touches the surface of the device, the finger of the user causes a disruption in the electrostatic field. The location of the touched area is sent to the processor. These types of devices cannot be used with gloves because they don't conduct electricity. The key is that these types of devices are conducted by electricity.

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Touch Screens in Education:

2.4 Microphone

A microphone is a sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. The microphone that is used in most computers, PDAs, and cellphone is called an electret type microphone. Microphones made for PC's use a stereo 3.5mm plug

2.5 Joystick

The first video game joystick was invented in 1967. The original joystick was able to control the vertical and horizontal location of a spot on a screen. In the education field, joysticks are used frequently with students that have special needs as an assistive technology pointing device. The user uses the joystick as a mouse pointer instead of controlling a video game. Students that have cerebral palsy or any other motion restricting handicap have an easier time gripping and moving a joystick rather than trying to maneuver a mouse around a hard surface. Those who have muscle weaknesses also enjoy using a joystick to maneuver around a computer screen. People also use joysticks in controlling electric wheelchairs since they are easy to use and control.

3. Resources:

How mouses work:

How a computer mouse works:

How touch screens work:

4. References:

Shih, C. , Chang, M. , & Shih, C. (2009). Assisting people with multiple disabilities and minimal motor behavior to improve computer pointing efficiency through a mouse wheel.Research in Developmental Disabilities V. 30 No. 6 (November/December 2009) P. 1378-87, 30(6), 1378-1387.

Shimizu, H. , Yoon, S. , & McDonough, C. (2010). Teaching skills to use a computer mouse in preschoolers with developmental disabilities: Shaping moving a mouse and eye-hand coordination. Research in Developmental
Disabilities V. 31 No. 6 (November/December 2010) P. 1448-61, 31(6), 1448-1461.