Optical Mouse Definition

Also called an optical mouse, this is a type of mouse that uses a laser (or other light technology) to detect movement.

The optical mouse is a big advantage compared to the classic mice with the internal scroll wheel that got dirty all the time and didn’t have great precision.

Underneath the optical mouse, a beam of light, usually a deep red color, is fired and hits the surface the device sits on. Mouse movements are translated into cursor movements across the screen.

optical mouse

Light source

Led light

Optical mice often used light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for lighting when they first became popular. The color of optical mouse LEDs can vary, but red is the most common, since red diodes are cheap and silicon photodetectors are very sensitive to red light. Infrared LEDs are also widely used. Other colors are sometimes used, such as the blue LED on the VM-101 mouse.

laser light

The laser mouse uses an infrared laser diode instead of an LED to illuminate the surface below its sensor. As early as 1998, Sun Microsystems provided a laser mouse with its Sun SPARCstation servers and workstations. However, laser mice did not enter the general consumer market until 2004, following the development by a team at Agilent Laboratories in Palo Alto, led by Doug Baney, of a laser mouse based on a VCSEL (laser). 850nm that offers a 20x improvement in tracking performance. Tong Xie, Marshall T. Depue, and Douglas M. Baney received US Patents 7,116,427 and 7,321,359 for their work on VCSEL-based, low-power, wide-navigability consumer mice. Paul Machin at Logitech, in association with Agilent Technologies introduced the new technology as the MX 1000 laser mouse. This mouse uses a small infrared laser (VCSEL) instead of an LED and has significantly increased the resolution of the image taken by the mouse. Laser illumination allows for superior surface tracking compared to LED-illuminated optical mice.

Glass laser (or glaser) mice have the same capabilities as a laser mouse but perform much better on mirrored or clear glass surfaces than other optical mice on such surfaces. In 2008, Avago Technologies released laser navigation sensors whose emitter was integrated into the IC using VCSEL technology.

In August 2009, Logitech introduced mice with two lasers, to better track on glass and shiny surfaces; they called them «Darkfield» laser sensor.

mechanical mouse vs. optical mouse

Unlike mechanical mice, whose scrolling mechanisms can get clogged with lint, optical mice have no moving parts (other than buttons and scroll wheels); therefore, they require no maintenance, except for the removal of debris that may accumulate under the light emitter. However, they generally cannot scroll on shiny, transparent surfaces, including some mouse pads, causing the cursor to drift unpredictably during operation. Mice with less image processing power also have trouble tracking fast motion, while some high-quality mice can track faster than 2 m/s.

Some laser mouse models can move on shiny and transparent surfaces and have much higher sensitivity.

Optical models outperform mechanical mice on uneven, slippery, soft, sticky, or loose surfaces, and in general mobile situations that lack mouse pads. Because optical mice generate movement from an image that the LED (or infrared diode) illuminates, using multi-colored mouse pads can lead to unreliable performance; however, laser mice do not suffer from these problems and move on these surfaces.

When was the mouse invented?

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Alegsa.com.ar (2020). Optical Mouse Definition – ALEGSA 2020-04-20 url: https:///Dic/mouse optico.php

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