Our PCs wouldn’t be very useful if we couldn’t get information into the computer. In this video, you’ll learn about some of the most popular input devices.
To be able to use our computers we have to have some way to get data into the device. So in this video we’ll look at the many different types of PC input devices. A mouse is a very common way to get information into a computer. These are often connected via USB or through a wireless link to a USB interface. Sometimes you may need an adapter to go from USB to PS2. Most of the mice these days have no moving parts. They’re an optical mouse that uses light. For that reason, sometimes using these mice on a glass table might be a problem, although there are some optical mice that are specifically designed to be used on glass.
Right next your mouse is probably your keyboard. This is the most popular way to get information into your computer. These days we connect the keyboard with a USB connector, although older keyboards may use a PS2 connection. Many of today’s keyboards have additional functions. You can see on this keyboard I have some functions for media, starting and stopping and changing the volume levels. Very often these features require additional software on your computer to be able to take advantage of those special keys.
In larger computing environments you might find scanners that can take a printed page and be able to digitally scan that into your computer. These are often connected via USB, although you can find a number of scanners connecting via 802.11 wireless. There are many different types of scanners. This is an all in one device that does printing. It does copying. And it also has scanning built in. Or the scanner might be a flatbed scanner and its sole purpose is to scan information into your computer.
Many retail establishments will have barcode readers like these that are able to read those barcodes off of the merchandise. These are connected with a serial connection or USB connection. You might also find 802.11 wireless connectivity on these barcode readers. One of the newer kinds of bar code readers is on your mobile phone. You have a camera on the mobile phone that is able to read the bar code. And then software inside of your mobile device is able to interpret the results of that bar code.
More and more of our devices, especially our mobile devices, are integrating biometrics. They’re able to read fingerprints or perform face recognition. These are usually built into the device, or they may be connected from an external device via USB. You can see the fingerprint reader built right into the pad that’s on this laptop. And here’s a device that has a fingerprint reader built right into the side so you can walk up, scan your finger, and gain access to the device.
If you’re a gamer you probably have one of these. We can use both game pads and joysticks on our computers. These are almost always connected with USB, and almost always associated with games. It’s a little bit difficult to use these particular input devices for anything but a gaming environment. If you’re someone who likes to draw to get information into your computer, you might want to use a digitizer. This is commonly used for designing and artwork. It’s usually connected via USB. And it has a pressure sensitive area where you use a stylus like the one here, to be able to simply draw on to the digitizer and have that information appear inside of the computer.
Here’s a newer style of input device that uses motion to get input into the computer. You can see the motion sensor is USB connected down here. And it’s able to see you as you move your hands in the air above the sensor. Many laptops and mobile device have a touch pad that’s integrated right into the keyboard area. These could also be standalone devices that you would connect via USB. But very often, especially on laptops, they’re part of the laptop itself. This is effectively replacing a mouse. So you’ll need to plug in an external mouse, you can simply use your finger to act as a mouse right on top of the touch pad.
If you work in an environment with a high level of security, you may be using a smart card reader. This is able to read these smart cards. These are cards that have embedded circuitry within them. It’s very common to use these cards in payment systems or to use them for identification. It’s very common to use these smart cards for authentication. So we might ask a user for their username, their password, and then to plug in their physical smart card. So they would not be able to gain access unless they had the correct username, the correct password for that user name, and they had the physical card with them.
It’s common to see the smart card readers built into a number of mobile devices where you can simply plug the card right into the laptop. Or you might have an external reader that connects to the computer via USB, and you simply slide the smart card into the external reader. Although the cameras in our phones have advanced over the last few years, nothing beats the quality of a digital camera. To be able to input the pictures from the digital camera to your computer will often plug in directly with USB. The camera may support 802.11 wireless file transfers. Or you can disconnect the memory card from the camera itself and plug it directly into your computer.
Today’s digital cameras are quite advanced, with many different options of recording media. They can, of course, capture still images. But today’s digital cameras also to have the ability to capture full HD video and audio as well. Microphones are integrated into most laptops and mobile devices these days, but you could also get an external device to connect to your computer as well. If you’re connecting an analog microphone, you’re usually connecting via a TRS connection. That stands, of course, for Tip Ring and Sleeve. If this is a digital microphone, it may connect directly to your computer through a USB connection.
We’re not just sending audio these days, we’re also sending video as well. So we need a webcam to be able to capture that video and input it into our computer. These webcams are usually connected through USB, but they could also be wirelessly connected as this one is through 802.11. Many of these webcams will send and receive both audio and video. This particular webcam has a lens for the video on the front. And if you look closely, you’ll see a hole that’s right hand side so that it can capture audio as well.
If you’re connecting directly to your computer, these often need specialized drivers. So make sure you check the manual so that you’re able to connect and use this USB equipment. If you have a laptop, you probably have a webcam built right into the laptop itself. You can see the webcam on this laptop right here at the top. If we zoom in, we can easily see the camera lens. Right next to the camera lens is a light that lets you know if the camera’s on or not. And this particular laptop has a left and right audio microphones on the laptop as well.
For more advanced video usage, you might use something like a camcorder, which is able to capture both audio and video, and occasionally these devices have a still picture capability as well. These days these cameras are completely digital, they’ll capture the image and the audio and store it onto a hard drive, an SSD, or some other type of flash memory. There are many different ways to get these videos from the camera into your computer. One way is through USB, but you may need higher speed connectivity through something like FireWire.
You can also see FireWire listed on these devices as IEEE 1394, or perhaps the term I Link. These cameras today can also communicate through 802.11 wireless. Or you could simply pull the memory card out of the camera and put it right into your computer. If your computer supports input via HDMI, you can output from the camera directly to your computer and use that signal as your video source for video conferencing.