A mouse pad (sometimes mouse mat), is a surface for enhancing the usability of a computer mouse. A variety of mouse pads exist with many different textured surfaces to fit various different types of mouse technologies.
Older style mouse mats, with cloth or hard vinyl surfaces, were designed to generate friction and thus traction for the roller ball that moved the cursor. If used with an optical mouse the need for roller ball traction is not required and creates unnecessary friction between the mouse and the mousing surface. This allows colourful designs and gradients to be imprinted onto the surface of the mouse mat.
When using an optical mouse, the mouse pad should be replaced with a smoother mousing surface, designed for lower friction and improved manoeuvrability, thus reducing mousing effort. Dynamic promotional mouse pads take are perfect for this application. The advantage, compared to mousing on desk surfaces, is the ability to replace the mouse mat (and if wear occurs, mouse feet) so any gradual deterioration of the mousing surface that increases resistance or creates optical flaws can be corrected and restored.
Mouse pads are available in many shapes and designs. Designs are available with built-in wrist rests made of silicone gel, foamed and beaded materials.