What is a device?

A device is something that people created or adapted for a specific purpose. Most of us think of electronic or mechanical equipment when we hear the term. A device may also refer to a trick, method, or plan with a certain objective or aim, as in: “Writing to your local lawmaker or member of parliament is a popular device for expressing dissent.”

This article focuses on the meaning of the word in the context of mechanical or electronic equipment.


Device in computing

In the world of computing, a device is an item of hardware or equipment in a computer system that has computing functions.

Techopedia.com has the following definition of the term in a computing context:

“A device is a unit of physical hardware or equipment that provides one or more computing functions within a computer system. It can provide input to the computer, accept output or both.”

“A device can be any electronic element with some computing ability that supports the installation of firmware or third-party software.”

Your computer speakers, disk drive, printer, microphone, modem, and mouse are examples of devices. All of them can be replaced or installed separately.

In computing, a device driver converts general commands into a language that a piece of equipment understands – it is, in effect, a translator.


Device vs. gadget

The two terms have a similar but not identical meaning. When we cannot remember the name of a piece of equipment, we use the terms gadget or gizmo.

We commonly use the term device, on the other hand, even if we know or remember the item’s proper name.

We only use gadget, unlike device, for small and innovative things. If you saw a giant pump, you would not refer to it as a gadget.


Terms consisting of 2+ words

The term commonly appears in the names of items, such as military equipment or weapons. The letters IED, for example, stand for Improvised Explosive Device; a bomb created and deployed in a non-traditional way. Roadside bombs that terrorists deploy are IEDs.

Repeal of the medical device tax - 4983980398309ffff8

Medical devices

Any type of apparatus, implement, machine, implant, or instrument in a healthcare context is a medical device. We use this term for a wide range of products. Let’s look at a small list of some of them:

  • Disposable gloves.
  • Condoms.
  • Thermometers.
  • Needles and syringes.
  • Bedpans.
  • Pacemakers.
  • Implants.
  • Urinary catheters.
  • Nebulizers.
  • Masks.
  • Instruments, equipment and materials that dentists use.
  • Prostheses (false legs or arms).
  • Defibrillators.
  • Hospital beds.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanners,
  • Ultrasound scanners.

The Word Health Organization has the following definition of the term in a medical or healthcare setting:

“Medical device means any instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, appliance, implant, reagent for in vitro use, software, material or other similar or related article, intended by the manufacturer to be used, alone or in combination.”