Learning Resources
 

Mouse Technologies


Variants

Mechanical mice
German company Telefunken published on their early ball mouse, called "Rollkugel" (German for "rolling ball"), on October 2, 1968. Telefunken's mouse was then sold commercially as optional equipment for their TR-440 computer, which was first marketed in 1968. Telefunken did not apply for a patent on their device. Bill English, builder of Engelbart's original mouse,created a ball mouse in 1972 while working for Xerox PARC.

The ball mouse replaced the external wheels with a single ball that could rotate in any direction. It came as part of the hardware package of the Xerox Alto computer. Perpendicular chopper wheels housed inside the mouse's body chopped beams of light on the way to light sensors, thus detecting in their turn the motion of the ball. This variant of the mouse resembled an inverted trackball and became the predominant form used with personal computers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The Xerox PARC group also settled on the modern technique of using both hands to type on a full-size keyboard and grabbing the mouse when required.

The ball mouse has two freely rotating rollers. They are located 90 degrees apart. One roller detects the forward–backward motion of the mouse and other the left–right motion. Opposite the two rollers is a third one (white, in the photo, at 45 degrees) that is spring-loaded to push the ball against the other two rollers. Each roller is on the same shaft as an encoder wheel that has slotted edges; the slots interrupt infrared light beams to generate electrical pulses that represent wheel movement. Each wheel's disc, however, has a pair of light beams, located so that a given beam becomes interrupted, or again starts to pass light freely, when the other beam of the pair is about halfway between changes.

Simple logic circuits interpret the relative timing to indicate which direction the wheel is rotating. This incremental rotary encoder scheme is sometimes called quadrature encoding of the wheel rotation, as the two optical sensor produce signals that are in approximately quadrature phase. The mouse sends these signals to the computer system via the mouse cable, directly as logic signals in very old mice such as the Xerox mice, and via a data-formatting IC in modern mice. The driver software in the system converts the signals into motion of the mouse cursor along X and Y axes on the computer screen.
Hawley Mark II Mice from the Mouse House

The ball is mostly steel, with a precision spherical rubber surface. The weight of the ball, given an appropriate working surface under the mouse, provides a reliable grip so the mouse's movement is transmitted accurately. Ball mice and wheel mice were manufactured for Xerox by Jack Hawley, doing business as The Mouse House in Berkeley, California, starting in 1975.Based on another invention by Jack Hawley, proprietor of the Mouse House, Honeywell produced another type of mechanical mouse.Instead of a ball, it had two wheels rotating at off axes. Key Tronic later produced a similar product.

Modern computer mice took form at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) under the inspiration of Professor Jean-Daniel Nicoud and at the hands of engineer and watchmaker André Guignard.This new design incorporated a single hard rubber mouseball and three buttons, and remained a common design until the mainstream adoption of the scroll-wheel mouse during the 1990s. In 1985, René Sommer added a microprocessor to Nicoud's and Guignard's design.Through this innovation, Sommer is credited with inventing a significant component of the mouse, which made it more "intelligent;"though optical mice from Mouse Systems had incorporated microprocessors by 1984.

Optical and laser mice
Optical mice make use of one or more light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and an imaging array of photodiodes to detect movement relative to the underlying surface, rather than internal moving parts as does a mechanical mouse. A laser mouse is an optical mouse that uses coherent (laser) light.

The earliest optical mice detected movement on pre-printed mousepad surfaces, whereas the modern optical mouse works on most opaque surfaces; it is unable to detect movement on specular surfaces like glass. Laser diodes are also used for better resolution and precision. Battery powered, wireless optical mice flash the LED intermittently to save power, and only glow steadily when movement is detected.
Inertial and gyroscopic mice

Often called "air mice" since they do not require a surface to operate, inertial mice use a tuning fork or other accelerometer (US Patent 4787051) to detect rotary movement for every axis supported. The most common models (manufactured by Logitech and Gyration) work using 2 degrees of rotational freedom and are insensitive to spatial translation. The user requires only small wrist rotations to move the cursor, reducing user fatigue or "gorilla arm".

Usually cordless, they often have a switch to deactivate the movement circuitry between use, allowing the user freedom of movement without affecting the cursor position. A patent for an inertial mouse claims that such mice consume less power than optically based mice, and offer increased sensitivity, reduced weight and increased ease-of-use.In combination with a wireless keyboard an inertial mouse can offer alternative ergonomic arrangements which do not require a flat work surface, potentially alleviating some types of repetitive motion injuries related to workstation posture.