Input devices include any kind of equipment that brings information into a computer. Examples of input devices include ones that people use directly to enter text and give commands to a computer, such as touchscreen, mouse or keyboard. Other types send other types of data to a computer, such as cameras and scanners that capture visual information, microphones that capture sound signals and more esoteric sensors that capture environmental readings or scientific information.
Input Devices and Examples
For computers to be useful, they need to capture data and commands from the outside world. To do so, they use a wide variety of input devices.
The most familiar are probably those that people use directly for typing or otherwise entering data, such as computer keyboards and mice. Many computers support alternatives to these as well, such as the track pads built into laptops, trackballs used to move cursors in lieu of mice, digital drawing pads commonly used by artists and game controllers used by video game aficionados. A touchscreen is an example of an input device commonly used with smart phones, though they're available on computers and other devices such as ATMs and voting machines as well.
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Traditionally, different types of input devices often had different types of connectors, and not all input devices were compatible with all computers. Nowadays, many new input devices connect through standardized universal serial bus – USB – ports or other common ports such as FireWire, making compatibility of devices, cords and computers less an issue.
Other Examples of Input Devices
Input devices aren't limited to ones that you can hold in your hand. Cameras built into smart phones and computers – or connectable to them – are also input devices. Scanners, whether they're flatbed scanners designed to capture images of documents or the barcode scanners found at the supermarket, are another type of input device often used with computers.
Microphones are also used as input devices to send audio data to computers. Some musical instruments can also work as computer input devices, whether through USB or through another standard like the musical instrument digital interface, abbreviated MIDI.
Since computers are used to process more and more medical and scientific data, many modern medical and scientific instruments are also designed to be computer input devices. For example, many microscopes and telescopes are now designed to be compatible with the USB standard to send images and observations to computers. More esoteric scientific and industrial equipment can also be connected to computers.