How does a laser sensor mouse work?

Remember when the mouse used a ball instead of a laser sensor? Not only did this system pick up dirt, but it was also completely inaccurate, leaving many people struggling to click in the right place.

Fortunately, the technology of this peripheral has evolved by leaps and bounds and today we have the most advanced sensors on the market, capable of detecting micrometric displacements on the mouse pad.

In the current market we have laser and optical models

There are currently two main types of sensors: laser and optical models. This new generation of devices guarantees a precise response to even the fastest movements, whether they are performed during a game or in an image editing program.

But have you ever thought about how a laser mouse works? How does the little light below read the surface and control the cursor on your computer screen? Next we will show you all this and explain in detail the magic of the modern mouse!

Mouse Razer Naga, one of the most famous for using laser sensors

How does a laser mouse work

The laser mouse uses an optical sensor to read the surface directly below. This sensor, known as CMOS, is made up of thousands of light-sensitive transducers and behaves like a micro-camera, capturing multiple frames per second (the so-called polling rate or sampling rate).

From this information, a small processor in the mouse interprets the information and determines factors such as the cursor’s speed of movement, acceleration, and direction. The mouse recognizes your every move.

Like all sensors, this CMOS requires a light source. This is where the laser comes in: it illuminates the surface and returns information through a complex array of lenses. View a simulation of the light paths in the diagram below:

Many of the laser transmitters use frequencies that are not visible to the human eye (e.g. infrared). Due to the precision and intensity of the light rays, some models obtain information not only from the surface, but also from the slightly deeper layers of the material used as a mouse pad.

What are the advantages of using a laser mouse?

Unlike the old ball mice, the new models don’t have any moving parts involved in tracking your movements. This leads to an infinitely higher accuracy of movement.

Another important advantage is the need for constant cleaning, since there are not many places where dust can get in.

You don’t need to clean laser mice often

Laser models experienced a rapid rise in the market because they offered better responses than the first generation of optical mice with LEDs and were also compatible with a wide variety of materials.

Models with a laser sensor can also be used on surfaces such as glass without a great loss of precision.

And the optical mouse, is it better or worse?

Technically, both types of sensors are considered optical because they use CMOS to detect the displacement of the peripheral on a surface. The difference between the laser mouse and the optical mouse lies in the type of lighting used. In the optics, light is emitted by an LED.

In their first generations, models with LED lighting weren’t as accurate, in addition to the compatibility issues with translucent or reflective surfaces mentioned above.

Another problem was the amount of DPIs offered, which was too low for a reasonable answer.

The DPI (dots per inch) rate determines the number of dots per inch that are interpreted for on-screen movement. Larger values ​​read more points from the surface and result in higher sensitivity, requiring little mouse movement to move the cursor large distances on the PC.

The higher the DPI, the greater the sensitivity

Currently, virtually all mouse models on the market have more than enough DPI settings to suit everyone from video editors to professional gamers (most gamers prefer lower sensitivity levels, typically between 400 and 1600 DPI).

A clear step forward for optical models

Despite going through a “intermediate” phase, lately models with optical sensors have been the most used by all manufacturers, especially those focused on gaming, such as Corsair, ASUS, Logitech and Razer.

The new models have extremely accurate sensors that can reach up to 20,000 DPI and are also energy-saving. This has fueled a new generation of wireless peripherals with the same quality and responsiveness as wired models, without the need for constant charging.

Even the surface compatibility issue has improved. Many of the gamer software have a feature to adjust the mouse response based on the mouse pad material, giving gamers even more precision.

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Source(s): Corsair, Digital Trends and Player ID