Measuring the Coefficient of Static Friction for Gaming Mouse Feet / Mouse Skates

Measuring the Coefficient of Static Friction for Gaming Mouse Feet / Mouse Skates

There is much discussion in online forums and Reddit regarding the friction of a gaming mouse, in addition to many claims by manufacturers purporting the smooth glide of their products. It is not often that you see these statements measured. 

I'm not saying that these claims are baseless though. At least some part of the reason why friction isn't quantified in the realm of gaming mice could be because of how complicated friction really is.

Consider the fact that for some surfaces, such as a glossy gaming mouse, a slightly moist hand grips the mouse much harder. But once the mouse becomes too slippery, the friction decreases. This is due to the way that Van der Waal's forces interact with other forces of friction. Scientists are quite far from fully understanding friction - there are many studies ongoing today attempting to learn more (for example, fine-tuning the friction on a nuclear power generator turbine could save a company millions). 

There are many sources of friction such as inter-molecular forces, electrical friction, and molecular bonding. Confused yet? The good news is that you don't need to know any of this if you're just trying to know the friction of your gaming mouse. 

One thing that you do need to know, however, is the type of mouse skates you are using IN ADDITION to the type of mousepad. By definition, friction needs 2 inputs: it's the resistance of one surface moving over another.

Despite the fact that friction is so complicated, it's actually very easy to measure the friction of a gaming mouse (static friction in particular). There are many ways in which you can measure static friction, but here's the easiest method:

  • Put the gaming mouse on an inclined plane.
  • Tilt the inclined plane at a specific angle and gradually increment the angle. 
  • Record the angle in which the mouse slides down the plane (using a protractor, or electronic level, or other angle-measuring devices).
  • Once you have the angle accurately measured, you can use math to determine the coefficient of static friction.

The equation is: 

μ=tan θ
Coefficient of Static Friction is the tangent of the angle

This diagram below is purely an example, it's not a realistic scenario of course. But it helps to illustrate the point: