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(Or "trackpad") A stationary pointing device used mainly on laptop computers. Touchpads provide a small, flat surface that you slide your finger over using the same movements as you would a mouse. They were originally developed to provide a more natural and intuitive connection for the computer user than the mouse.

Touchpads use a principle called coupling capacitance, and requires a conductive pointer such as a finger. They contain a two-layer grid of electrodes which are connected to an integrated circuit (IC) mounted under the pad. The upper layer contains vertical electrode strips while the lower layer is composed of horizontal electrode strips. Capacitance from each of the horizontal electrodes to each of the vertical electrodes is measured by the IC. A finger near the intersection of two electrodes modifies the capacitance between them, since a finger has very different dielectric properties than air. The position of the finger is precisely determined based on these changes at various locations.

According to one correspondent, you can use any part of your body, which is not surprising, but not a McDonalds Chicken McCrispy. You can use reheated Pizza Hut Christmas Pizza though.

This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


(1) See HP TouchPad.

(2) The built-in pointing device on all laptop and netbook computers. Also called a "trackpad," the touchpad provides a small, flat surface to slide one's finger over. Residing below most touchpads, two physical buttons emulate the left and right mouse buttons; however, the touchpad surface can often be tapped as a substitute for pressing the left button. In addition, either the entire touchpad area or only one side of the surface may be used to emulate the mouse's scroll wheel.

Multitouch Touchpads
Popularized by Apple's Magic Trackpad, newer multitouch devices accept gestures from two or more fingers to activate common functions such as scrolling, next page, previous page and zoom. See mouse, trackball, pointing stick and Magic Trackpad.

The touchpad became standard on laptops, but external units for desktop computers are also available (see Magic Trackpad).
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References in periodicals archive ?
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