After watching Discovery Channel’s special on bionics, I discovered the reason why I can’t stand the touchpads that most laptops have. The program mentioned how the brain adapts and integrates with whatever we interact with. An example would be a tennis player. They don’t swing the racket. They use it as though it was an extension of their body. This is much the same way that I use a mouse. I don’t think about where to move the mouse, I just think where I want the cursor to go, and my brain interprets that intention appropriately. It moves the muscles in my arm to move the mouse, which moves the cursor as I want it. If you don’t believe me, try changing your mouse speed. If you slow it down, it seems like it takes great effort to move the cursor, doesn’t it?
This effect seems to apply only to things directly connected to my body. A nub requires my finger to stay in the same position as I move the mouse. A touchpad forces my finger to move until it hits the edge of the pad, then I must break that continuous motion to return my finger to a starting position. With the nub, the finger simply keeps pushing in that direction until the position is achieved. When moving your arm out in front of you, do you move it like a ratchet wrench?