A touchpad or trackpad is a pointing device featuring a tactile sensor, a specialized surface that can translate the motion and position of a user's fingers to a relative position on screen. Touchpads are a common feature of laptop computers, and are also used as a substitute for a mouse where desk space is scarce. Because they vary in size, they can also be found on personal digital assistants (PDAs) and some portable media players. Wireless touchpads are also available as detached accessories. Touchpads operate in one of several ways, including capacitive sensing and conductance sensing. The most common technology used as of 2010 entails sensing the capacitive virtual ground effect of a finger, or the capacitance between sensors. Capacitance-based touchpads will not sense the tip of a pencil or other similar implement. Gloved fingers may also be problematic.
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