Surely many of you, if you have been in computer science for a few years now, will have had one of these mice at some point, and you will remember fondly (or badly) the tedious process of cleaning the inner rollers when the device began to fail. work fine to return it to its usual precision. In any case, this type of mouse worked quite well at the time and, despite this, it was replaced by the current optical and laser sensors.
The limitations of ball mice
Many of you will say that if these mice ended up disappearing in favor of current sensors, it will be for something, and you are right. To begin with, ball mice had enormous limitations since their operation was based on a ball, usually metallic and covered by rubber, that physically rotated when moving the mouse; This ball made two rollers rotate, one horizontal and the other vertical, and the rotation of these is what the device interpreted to perform the movements on the PC.
This mode of operation had several disadvantages, such as the fact that the sensitivity was quite limited since it depended on physical elements (the rollers), as well as the fact that these rollers They got dirty a lot and we were forced to remove the ball and clean them so that the mouse would work well again. It was not often that the rollers were damaged, but even so, physical elements that are in motion had some wear so the durability was also limited.
Obviously, the sensors that detected the rotation of the rollers at that time were not the most accurate either, and all this coupled with the fact that the manufacturing cost of this tracking system was much higher than that of the sensors. Opticians of the time, inevitably led to extinction.
Could these gaming mice come back?
However, ball mice also had other advantages such as the fact that movements could have a tracking 1: 1 exactly, something ideal to be able to have a maximum precision and, proof of this, is that in reality the “ball” mice have not exactly disappeared completely since many manufacturers continue to put “trackball” models on the market, although it is true that now the ball is located at the top to move with the fingers instead of below to move with the movement of the mouse itself.
It is true that the mode of operation of these trackball mice is not the same as that of the ball mice of yesteryear, since instead of rollers they directly have sensors that detect the movements of the ball to interpret the movements of the mouse itself.
Actually, there is nothing that prevents manufacturers from starting to integrate the balls back into the underside of the mouse, and although it would have the same drawbacks as the mice of yesteryear, of course the sensors that exist today are much better … but Of course, we would be losing the great advantage, which is that the rollers provided that real 1: 1 tracking since they have been replaced by sensors; And of course, if you are integrating sensors, why put a ball when you can put the sensor directly on the bottom surface of the mouse, which is what they do now?
In other words, if you are a lover of retro and you were hoping that manufacturers would introduce ball mice back into their catalog, you can say goodbye, since in reality it is something that no longer makes sense today because technology has been widely surpassed and In fact, using a modern optical sensor will give you better precision and it’s cheaper to manufacture.