Input device

Updated: 08/16/2021 by Computer Hope
Trackball input device example

An input device is any hardware device that sends data to a computer, allowing you to interact with and control it. The picture shows a Logitech trackball mouse, which is an example of an input device.

The most commonly used or primary input devices on a computer are the keyboard and mouse. However, there are other devices that input data into a computer.

Types of input devices

Note

Although OMR cards and punch cards contain data, they are not considered input devices by themselves. It is the readers that interpret the cards that are considered an input device.

Tip

Drives such as a CD-ROM, DVD, floppy diskette drive, and USB flash drive are also considered storage devices.

What are the input devices of my computer?

Every computer comes with a keyboard and a mouse (touchpad with laptop), which are considered input devices. As far as other input devices, it depends on what was included with your computer and what's connected to the computer. The best method of determining all of the input devices your computer has is to go through the list above.

What does an input device send to a computer?

What an input device sends (inputs) to a computer depends on the device. Additionally, all input devices send data from the device over a cable or wireless transmission to the computer. For example, as you move a computer mouse, the data sent to the computer is the X-Y axis movements used to display the mouse cursor on the screen. You can see a live example of this on our x-axis definition.

Why does a computer need an input device?

Today, input devices are important because they are what allows you to interact with and add new information to a computer. For example, if a computer had no input devices, it could run by itself but there would be no way to change its settings, fix errors, or other various user interactions. Also, if you wanted to add new information to the computer (e.g., text, command, document, picture, etc.), you wouldn't be able to do so without an input device.

Input devices for physically challenged users

In addition to the list mentioned above, other specially designed input devices are designed for the physically challenged. Below is a list of examples of these devices.

  • Eye-tracking - A specialized camera to track a user's eye to perform actions or move a mouse pointer.
  • Foot mouse - Mouse pointer controlled using pedals with your feet.
  • Gesture recognition - Specialized device to detect different gestures, including facial expressions, reading lips, and sign language.
  • Head-mounted pointer - A pointer can be mounted to a hat or band to track and control the mouse pointer.
  • Joystick - A joystick next to the computer or on a wheelchair to control a mouse pointer. It's possible these joysticks could be operated using your chin, lips, or tongue for people with no head movement.
  • Voice recognition - Using your voice to control computer functions and typing on a computer.

Hardware terms, HID, Input, Input/output device, Keyboard terms, Mouse terms, Output device, Pointing device