A mouse mat, or mouse pad, is a surface of material designed to improve your computer mouse performance. Mouse mats were originally designed to provide friction for the mouse trackball which needs traction to detect the movement of the hand. For trackball mice, mouse mats provide more precision, speed and comfort for the user. Optical mice, on the other hand, do not require friction to function because they detect movement using image sensors and they no longer require special mouse pads either. However, optical mice do not work very well on reflective or shiny surfaces and so a matt mouse mat can improve their performance as well. In addition, a mouse mat will protect the surface of a desk from scratches and wear.
In recent years, mouse mats have been designed with comfort and ergonomics in mind, with more sophisticated shapes and built-in rests to make using a computer mouse more comfortable.
Mouse mats are typically made from low density rubber composites with a fabric surface. The rubbery underneath of a mouse mat will stop it from slipping and sliding around.