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Mice Unplugged

Even though you've gotten used to cell phones and garage door openers, wireless mice still seem like a marvel. How on earth does the wireless mouse speak to your computer sans cords and USB connectors? The truth is that wireless mice are using the same technology as your cell phone and your garage door opener. They operate using radio frequency (RF) technology to communicate data to your PC.

Simple Explanation

Because the wireless mouse works through radio frequencies it requires a transmitter and a receiver to do its thing. Here's the simple explanation of how the wireless mouse works:

*The wireless mouse houses a transmitter. The transmitter sends a radio signal that encodes information about your mouse's journey and the items it clicks.

*A receiver connected to your computer catches the signal. The signal is decoded and passed on to your operating system (OS) and to the driver software that comes with your mouse.

*Sometimes the receiver takes the form of a separate, plug-in device, such as a card designed to fit into a built-in slot or a slot you add onto your PC.

Dime A Dozen

Today, electronic devices using radio frequencies are a dime a dozen. In order to be able to communicate without any interruptions, delays, or conflicts, various kinds of RF devices have been allotted different radio frequencies. Garage door openers, for instance, must operate at a frequency of 40 megahertz, while cell phones use a 900 megahertz frequency. Wireless networks do their thing at 2.4 gigahertz. The term "megahertz" (MHz) connotes one million cycles per second. This means that a cell phone uses 900 million electromagnetic waves per second. The term "gigahertz" (GHz) translates to one billion cycles per second.

The optical mouse which preceded the wireless mouse was dependent on the communication of light between the mouse and a sensor. The wireless mouse, however, can pass radio waves through solid objects like your desktop and monitor. Radio frequency technology offers other advancements as regards the wireless mouse. These benefits include:

*RF transmitters don't need much power and can even be run on batteries

*RF components are not expensive

*RF components weigh almost nothing

Newer Technology

Even so, the wireless mouse doesn't quite supplant the optical mouse since it still uses optical sensor technology to give it precision. This newer optical mouse technology allows you to use your mouse on just about any surface at all.

The transmitter and receiver used by your wireless mouse must be paired in order for them to communicate. That means that both must operate at the same frequency on the same channel by means of the same identification code. A channel is the designated frequency and its code. The goal of pairing is to remove any outside interference from other RF devices or sources. Some mice come already paired while others may employ a pairing system that kicks in when you turn a dial, turn on the mouse, or push certain buttons.

Wireless mouse often include some type of encryption scheme that serves to protect the information that your mouse transmits to the receiver. This encryption encodes your data into a format that becomes illegible to others. Other wireless mice use the frequency hopping method and this causes your mouse and receiver to switch frequencies according to a pattern which can both protect you from data theft and interference.

 

 
 
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