Input Devices

What are Input Devices?

Input devices are devices or interfaces that allow users to provide data, commands, and instructions to a computer or electronic system. 

These devices facilitate communication between users and the digital environment.

Examples of Input Devices:

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Stylus
  • Scanner
  • Joystick etc.

Input Devices of Computer:

Input devices of computers can be classified as listed below:

I. Physical Input Devices (Keyboard, Mouse)

II. Voice and Audio-Based Input Devices (Microphone)

III. Visual Input Devices (Webcam)

IV. Touch-Based Input Devices (Touchscreen)

These are  all explained below:

I. Physical Input Devices:

1. Keyboard: 

A keyboard is a standard input device used to communicate with computers and other digital devices.It consists of a set of keys containing

  • Letters
  • Numbers
  • Punctuation marks
  • Symbols
  • Special function keys. 
It allows users to input text and commands by pressing the keys. 

When you press a key, it sends an electrical signal to the computer, which then processes the input and displays the corresponding character on the screen.

Keyboards are designed with different layouts, the most common being the QWERTY layout. This arrangement of keys is named after the first six letters in the top row. 

They come in various forms, such as traditional wired keyboards, wireless Bluetooth keyboards, and virtual on-screen keyboards for touchscreen devices.

2. Mouse:

A mouse is a device used to control the movement of a cursor or pointer on a computer screen.

A standard mouse has two primary buttons: the left button and the right button. It also has a scroll wheel.

  • Clicking the left button is often used for selecting items, opening files, and executing commands.
  • The right button usually provides context-sensitive options, like opening menus or displaying additional actions.
  • Most mouse have a scroll wheel between the buttons that allows you to scroll up and down on documents, web pages, and other content.
The pressing and releasing of a mouse button is referred to as "clicking." It's the basic action for selecting items and interacting with software.

It enables users to click, select, and navigate through graphical interfaces.

3. Scanner: 

A scanner is a hardware device that captures physical documents, images, or objects and converts them into digital formats.

It uses light and sensors to capture the content of, the physical item and convert it into electronic data.

Scanners can be of many types, such as 

  • Flatbed
  • Sheet-fed
  • Drum
  • Handheld
  • 3D scanners

Each of them are suited for specific tasks.

Scanners aid in converting physical data like printed books into digital formats for accessibility.

4. Joystick: 

A joystick is an input device that consists of a control stick that can be moved in various directions.

Joysticks are commonly used in gaming and simulation applications, such as flight simulators and driving games.

You can manipulate the joystick by pushing or pulling the control stick to control on-screen movement.

It often includes buttons and triggers that can be used for various in-game actions.

5. Touchpad: 

A touchpad is a flat, touch-sensitive surface usually located below the keyboard on laptops.

The users can control the movement of the cursor on the screen by sliding their fingers across the touchpad's surface.

Tapping the touchpad with one finger is equivalent to a mouse click, often used for selecting items and opening files.

6. Trackball: 

A trackball is a pointing device that features a stationary device with a large, spherical ball on top.

Trackballs have buttons that perform similar functions as mouse buttons, including left-click, right-click, and scrolling.

You can control the cursor on the screen by rotating the ball with your fingers or palm.

Some trackballs are designed as small, portable devices that can be carried with laptops.

7. Stylus: 

A stylus is a pen-like input device used with touchscreens, graphics tablets, and other touch-sensitive devices.

It is commonly used with touchscreens to tap, swipe, and draw with more accuracy than using fingers alone. It is used to create digital drawings, sketches, and illustrations on touch-enabled devices.

High-quality styluses aim to replicate the tactile feel of traditional pens and pencils.

Styluses work with devices that support touch input, such as smartphones, tablets, and certain laptops.

Some styluses come with interchangeable tips to provide different drawing experiences (e.g., fine point, brush-like).

8. Game pad: 

A game pad is a handheld input device designed for playing video games on computers and gaming consoles.

It is used with both gaming consoles (like PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo) and PCs.

It includes buttons for actions like jumping, shooting, and interacting, as well as triggers for actions like acceleration and braking.

9. Steering Wheel: 

A steering wheel is a specialized input device primarily used for driving simulation games and racing simulations.

It is most popular among competitive racing gamers and e-sports players.

Steering wheels provide a more realistic and immersive way to control vehicles in racing and driving games.

The circular rim can be turned like an actual steering wheel, allowing precise analog control over steering.

10. Graphics Tablet or Digitizer: 

A graphics tablet is also known as a Digitizer or Drawing Tablet. It is a input device used or creating digital artwork by artists, designers, and illustrators.

It consists of a flat surface and a stylus (pen-like device) that users use to draw directly on the tablet.

They are widely used for digital painting, illustration, concept art, digital handwriting, signatures, and graphic design.

Graphics tablets are used with software like Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, and Clip Studio Paint.

11. Barcode Reader: 

A barcode reader is an optical device used to scan and decode barcodes on various items, products, and labels.

Barcodes are patterns of parallel lines, usually represented vertically, with varying widths and gaps that encode information.

Barcodes encode data such as product details, prices, inventory information, and tracking codes.

It uses light and sensors to capture the pattern of lines in a barcode.

It is commonly used in retail environments for quickly and accurately scanning items during checkout.

12. QR Code Reader: 

A QR code reader is a software or hardware tool that uses a camera to scan Quick Response (QR) codes.

QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes consisting of a matrix of black and white squares, encoding data like URLs, text, and more.

It can store a variety of information, such as website URLs, contact details, product information, and payment codes.

It is user-friendly, requiring a simple scan to access information or perform actions. It can work across different devices, platforms, and operating systems.

13. Magnetic Stripe Reader (Card Reader):

A magnetic stripe reader, also known as a magstripe reader, is a device that reads information encoded on magnetic stripes found on various cards and documents.

Magnetic stripes are thin strips on cards that contain magnetic particles, used to store data like account numbers and personal information.

To read the magnetic stripe, the card is swiped through a slot in the reader, causing the magnetic particles to generate electrical signals.

It is used to read cards like credit/debit cards, identification cards, and membership cards. It can also be used to access the controls in buildings, requiring authorized personnel to swipe their ID cards.

14. Foot Pedal: 

A foot pedal is a specialized input device that allows users to control various functions using their feet, freeing up their hands for other tasks.

It  consists of one or more pedals that users can press down or release using their feet.

It can be mechanical (physically connected to the device) or electronic (wirelessly connected).

Foot pedals are commonly used in transcription and dictation software to control playback speed and rewind or fast-forward audio recordings.

In gaming, foot pedals can be used as additional controls, allowing players to assign functions like sprinting or crouching to their feet.

15. MIDI Keyboard/Controller: 

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.

It is an input device used by musicians and producers to interact with MIDI-enabled instruments, software, and hardware.

MIDI keyboards resemble traditional musical keyboards with keys, but they do not produce sound on their own.

They can connect to computers via USB or traditional MIDI ports. They are used in music education and training, providing an interactive way to learn music theory and practice. 

II. Touch-Based Input Devices:


A touchscreen is an input device that allows users to interact with a computer or electronic device by touching the screen directly.

It uses sensors to detect and interpret touch gestures and actions.

It replaces the physical keyboards with on-screen virtual keyboards for typing.

Touchscreens are used for mobile gaming, providing touch controls for gameplay.

A touchscreen allows users to interact directly with the computer by touching the display. It's used for tapping, swiping, and gestures to control various applications.

III. Voice and Audio-Based Input Devices:

1. Microphone: 

A microphone is an electronic device that converts sound waves into electrical signals, capturing audio for recording or amplification.

Microphones come in various types, including dynamic, condenser, ribbon, and USB microphones.

It amplifies voices and instruments during concerts and performances.

They are essential for radio shows, podcasts, and live streaming.

Microphones are used in phones, headsets, and video conferencing devices.

A microphone captures audio input, which can be used for voice commands, voice recognition, communication, recording, and more.

2. Voice Recognition System: 

A voice recognition system, also known as automated speech recognition (ASR), is a technology that converts spoken language into written text.

It is used in a variety of applications, including virtual assistants, transcription services, voice commands, and more.

Systems like Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa use voice recognition to understand and respond to your commands.

These systems interpret spoken words and convert them into text or commands, enabling hands-free control and interaction with devices.

IV. Visual Input Devices:

1. Eye Tracker: 

An eye tracker is a device or technology that monitors and records the movement of a person's eyes, known as their gaze.

It uses cameras, sensors, or other technologies to capture the position and movement of the eyes.

Eye tracking informs UX design decisions to create more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces.

Some systems allow remote eye tracking using webcams or wearable devices.

2. Webcam: 

A webcam is designed to capture video and transmit it over the internet or a computer network. It can be integrated into laptops and devices or purchased as external peripherals.

External webcams can be attached to monitors, laptops, tripods, and other supports. Most webcams connect to computers via USB, making them easy to set up.

Webcams are commonly used for video conferencing, online meetings, and video calls using platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams.

3. Digital Camera: 

A digital camera is an electronic device that captures images and videos which can then be transferred to a computer for editing, storage, and sharing.

Digital cameras use image sensors (like CCD or CMOS) to capture light and convert it into digital data.

It captures images in formats like JPEG, RAW, and sometimes TIFF.

It uses memory cards to store images and videos.

It offen use USB, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity for transferring files and remote control.

          These input devices offer a range of ways for users to interact with computers and devices as per their needs.