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A directional pad (D-pad) is a series of buttons placed in an arrow or cross design that provides commands for four directions – up-down-left-right or north-south-east-west. This type of physical interface control has been extremely popular in gaming equipment and other uses, such as television remote controls.
In most cases, the D-pad is made up of four different sensors under a plastic pad. When the user presses on each one, it sends a directional command to the program or game. Users take advantage of a D-pad to move players on the screen, navigate menus or perform other directional tasks. In some cases, a D-pad might actually be part of a touchscreen or desktop interface, rather than a physical set of buttons. Either way, it provides a very familiar and straightforward interface for users in many instances, from gaming to desktop computer software.