What is A Mouse Pad? History, Functions, and FAQs!

The mouse pad is, in all likelihood, one of the elements of our computer desktop to which less importance is given. Sometimes it is even an accessory that tends to go unnoticed, but when you think about it, it gives you more accuracy for your work and while gaming. 

what is a mouse pad
Image Source: Pixabay.

However, this does not happen in all cases. For many people, from a few decades ago to the modern day, these mouse pads are a vital accessory for the effective use of your computer.

Mouse Pads have more relevance thanks to the usability users – especially gamers – give to them when they are playing video games. But, this is not its only function.

In this article, we will explain what mouse pads are, what types currently exist and the advantages they offer in the field of study, work, and virtual sports. 

What is A Mouse Pad?

A mouse pad is a support set on a flat surface where you can put your mouse and improve its usability.

They have been used for decades to improve the fluidity, speed, direction, and reading of the optical sensor or laser pointer of the mice, compared to using them directly on a table or desk.

History Of Mouse Pad 

The history of mouse pads dates back to 1968, when Jack Kelley, office products designer for Hernan Miller, manufactured the first mouse pad after Douglas Engelbart invented the first computer mouse.

The first mice that were invented usually consisted of a ball-roller or contact rollers, a technology that appealed to many companies at the time.

However, these peripherals had the problem of accumulating dust and debris after being moved across the surface of tables or desks. This situation caused nervousness in the pointer, slow movement, and tracking problems. 

Then, with the invention of the mouse pad, the problem came to an end and the mouse pads became very popular among users. 

Over time, Microsoft and Logitech began to design optical mice with LED technology, which offers more consistent tracking on almost any surface. It also eradicates the problem of dirt accumulation inside the mice, which required a pad that would improve accuracy, speed, and comfort.

Currently, there are many models of mouse pads made of common and high-tech materials, which fulfill certain functions. They range from protecting the finish of tables or desks, to ensuring the fluidity and precision of mouse movement in E-sport tournaments.

Functions Of a Mouse Pad

Mouse pads are much more than just an element or accessory to place the mouse on our computer. Their greatest value lies in how users can take advantage of their functionalities. 

Here are 4 basic functions of mouse pads.

Protect Your Desk or Work Table: Dragging your mouse across a specific section of your desk or table will inevitably cause some wear and tear. Especially if you do this constantly, for several hours a day, and without any protection. This is when the mouse pad plays the role of protector on any surface where it is needed. Thus, avoiding the typical marks derived from the use of the mouse.
Increased Comfort of Use: As the hours go by, using a mouse can lead to increased fatigue and tiredness. It can even provoke long-term injuries in areas such as the forearm or wrist. Using a mouse pad is the safest way to keep the wrist on a soft surface and at the right angle while using the mouse.
Today, many companies have designed ergonomic-style mouse pads, which have cushions on the bottom that raise the wrist to a more natural angle. Others come with a soft gel-filled element and are designed for the user to place their arms on.
Improved Mouse Hygiene: Over time and without realizing it, our table or desk accumulates particles of dust, skin, grease, and sweat on the surface, which end up sticking to the underside of the mouse as we use it. This is the reason why mice lose their accuracy. So, mouse pads can help in this regard as an insulating layer between the mouse and the dirt on the table. Also, in case these get dirty, they are very easy to wash and quick to dry for further use.
Improve gaming performance: Certain kinds of video games require applying fast, intense, and precise mouse movements, so the mouse pad is a perfect solution. Its consistent and uniform texture makes it a perfect surface for scrolling mice of all types, no matter what technology they use. Another important aspect is that the top and bottom textures of the mouse pads don’t have the same finish. While the area that the user perceives is smooth and ideal for moving the mouse, the other facing the desk is rubbery to prevent unintentional slipping. 

How Does a Mouse Pad Work? 

Based on our experience, here’s how Mouse Pads work:

Firstly, mouse pads feature a micro-textured surface that is ideal for mouse sensor readings. We will be ensuring greater accuracy, or in other words, a lower rate of erroneous sensor readings.
The second aspect is that the surface of the mouse pad is designed to have low friction. This means that the wear on the mouse feet will be less, and they slide with less effort.
Finally, a mouse pad has a certain thickness that provides a cushioned surface on which to rest the wrist of the hand, making it more comfortable to use the mouse for long periods.

Types of Mouse Pad

Today, there are many models of mouse pads that differ in shape, design, materials, and manufacturing processes. 

However, they can be classified into 2 main types: according to stiffness and based on the manufacturing material.

Unlike the categories based on the material used, there are only 2 types of mouse pads that differ in the market, these are soft and hard. 

Both differ greatly from each other, due to differences in material, manufacturing process, and lifespan.

Soft Mouse PadsThese mouse pads have a soft, smooth surface on top that provides a comfortable area to rest your arm and wrist. If you work on the computer for long work sessions, using a soft mouse pad is best to avoid strain and fatigue on your hands.
Hard Mouse PadsAlthough hard mouse pads are also suitable for long work sessions, they are more focused on gamers and other similar users. They can hold the mouse and keyboard at the same time.

Currently, we can find four types of mouse pads according to the materials used at the time of manufacture, these are: fabric, plastic, aluminum, and glass.

Cloth Mouse PadCloth mouse pads are extremely common and the cheapest to manufacture next to plastic ones. This type of mouse pad offers the most resistance when sliding the mouse, but tends to be more precise.
Plastic Mouse PadThe material used in plastic mouse pads can vary, but they usually combine PVC, rubber, polyurethane, or silicone. Their level of friction is usually between medium and low since the mouse tends to slide more easily on them than on cloth. 
Aluminum Mouse PadsAluminum mouse pads have two layers: the surface in contact with the table is made of non-slip rubber and the cover contains aluminum particles.
Glass Mouse PadsGlass mouse pads are not very popular in the market because they are more fragile, expensive, and heavy. For many, the price of these is worth it because of the almost non-existent friction rate and the fact that they never wear out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wrap Up

Let me start by saying that both “Mouse Pad” and “Mousepad” are widely used. In this article, I chose to go with the separate term because it covers the entire meaning of the product I’m talking about in the lines above.

In short, using a mouse pad is not strictly necessary, but it is a highly recommended accessory for most users.

It depends on the circumstances, comfort, and what it will be used for.

When choosing a good mouse pad, remember to take into account aspects such as size, durability, material, and ease of cleaning.

Pay special attention to the features offered by the models available for your device.

Share It!
Alberto Araujo
Alberto Araujo

Alberto Araujo is a former tech support professional that had a change of heart and now aims to write top-notch tech content for his readers. Writer, digital nomad, tech-geek and hunger for knowledge, that’s how you can describe him. If you want to learn about technology, building PCs, and software applications to make your life easier, his content is for you.

Articles: 36
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *