The Drawbacks of an Optical Mouse

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Updated on Jan 29, 2014

The optical mouse replaced the old-school mechanical rollerball style mice that we can't seem to find anymore these days outside of antique stores and attics. Dust clogged up those rollerball-type mice and and they were prone to getting “caught” on things or to skid, which dramatically affected performance. The optical mouse solved those problems, using a red Light-Emitting Diode (LED) and optical sensor that relies on images being “offset” or slightly displaced for positioning. But did that solution creat other problems?


Find out whether optical mice work on all surfaces, and try to understand why certain surfaces are better than others.


  • One wireless optical mouse
  • Black mouse pad or black surface
  • Light colored or white surface
  • Piece of transparent glass
  • Mirror
  • A computer, of course


  1. Attach the optical mouse to your computer.
  2. Slide the white surface underneath your mouse. Observe if the mouse moves and responds easily.
  3. Now, replace the white surface with the black surface. What happens?
  4. Try putting a mirrored surface underneath, now what happens?
  5. Finally, try the transparent glass. Does the mouse move at all?
  6. Compare the different surfaces and research why some might be better than others.
Sofia PC is currently a college student with a deep interest in science who is aspiring to become a writer. She writes about all sorts of things across all subjects including, but not limited to; science, crafts, and fashion. She hopes to become a good writer so she can share her thoughts and experiences with the world and future generations.