More than 20 years ago Logitech introduced their first mouse to the computing industry in 1981. For the next 18 years Logitech mice tracked motion using the now familiar ball-based mechanical system. In 1995 Logitech released its first optical sensing technology for trackballs. Then, in 2000 they released their first mouse with a optical tracking system which has become the standard today. There were some downfalls to this early optical mouse most notably the inability to work on some surfaces and trouble with quick motions. In 2002 Logitech worked with partner Agilent Technologies to develop their MX Optical Engine which is used in all of their new mice.
Traditional vs. optical
The biggest problem with traditional ball mice that probably everyone has experienced is when it gets dirty. Because traditional mice have a ball in them that rolls around on some surface it is bound to pick up debris. This debris that is picked up will eventually clog the rollers and cause the mouse to be choppy or to stop completely. When that happens you have to take out the ball, clean the rollers, and your back up and running again. Though the solution is simple and normally takes only a few minutes it does get annoying. If you have ever tried to use a traditional mouse without a good mouse pad you irritation it can cause. If you do not use a mouse pad with a good surface to properly move the ball your pointer will no go where you want it to and be inaccurate. Optical mice do not have either of these problems because they track movement without moving parts. Not only are there no moving parts but they can be used on almost any surface.
How optical mice work
Optical mice use a LED to light the surface below the mouse, a lens that focuses the image of the surface on the sensor of a tiny digital camera, and a specialized digital signal processor (DSP) with intelligent software algorithms to analyze the images.
Image Processing Power
Logitech’s MX510 Optical Engine has an Image Processing Power of 5.8 megapixels per second, more than two times higher than other leading mice. This number attests to the significantly improved tracking capabilities of the MX Series.
Frame rate is another important factor of tracking quality. If the mouse is moved too quickly and successive images don’t overlap, then the DSP will not be able to determine actual motion and the cursor will move in a random direction. The MX510 Optical Engine combines improvements in all these areas with a significantly increased frame rate for accurate, responsive control under nearly any circumstance. It’s safe to say that few people will ever move a mouse faster than the MX510 Optical Engine can track.
Logitech’s MX510 Optical Engine resolution is 800 DPI, twice that of most competitors’ optical sensors. This allows smoother, more accurate cursor control with large screens while minimizing the amount of left-and-right hand motion. By default, the cursor is also easy to control with smaller screen sizes, and Logitech’s software enables users to adjust the responsiveness of the cursor to suit their individual preferences.
The Optical Path
Because the lens is just a fraction of an inch above the tracking surface, and the actual size of the images is very small, even slight variations in manufacturing tolerances can result in blurry images that seriously degrade tracking quality. Logitech designed a proprietary new lens for the MX510 Optical Engine that improves the depth of field. The result: more details are captured in each image with greater clarity.
The proprietary algorithms used in the MX510 Optical Engine incorporate years of extensive research and testing, and contribute to the outstanding performance on surfaces that traditionally pose problems for other optical mice.
Acceleration and Speed
Mouse movements are characterized by short bursts of rapid acceleration and deceleration as the user points to different locations on the screen. This is especially true while playing games, when the mouse tends to be moved very quickly. Maximum acceleration and speed figures are frequently used as a measure of performance. The MX510 Optical Engine is capable of tracking movements up to an acceleration of 15g, and a maximum speed of 40 inches per second which exceed typical human limits.
Aside from extremely smooth, glossy, or glass surfaces, the MX510 is capable of navigating a much broader range of surfaces than previous generations of optical mice. The benefit to the user is that they can use the mouse on almost any surface and move the mouse more quickly in gaming applications.