I have been reading articles about how it may become standard for workers to bring their own technology equipment to work, but I’m wondering how the ergonomics of a consumer device may work against task workers. The high-end consumer equipment I see generally involves spiffy new devices that have users typing on glass, using touch screens instead of keyboards, and using gestures instead of mice.
The problem is that my hands don’t float in the air. It takes small, rarely used muscles all up and down my wrist to my upper back to float my hands above an iPad’s glass, carefully reach for and touch half inch tall parts of a screen, or whip my fingers side to side in the air. If the touchscreen isn’t on a desk, it takes more effort to keep it still enough to be able to hit the targets on the screen.
I’m no ergonomic expert, but just as “blackberry thumb” emerged from that interface, won’t “floating hands syndrome” emerge when humans start pushing the limits of how long they were designed to hold their hands steady, 5 mm above a surface and make accurate motions within a one inch radius? With a keyboard, my hands rest on some of the keys and, while pausing, I can touch down on various parts of it without screwing up the cursor. Likewise, my hand rests some weight on the mouse or desktop while I’m using that.
These devices aren’t meant to be substitutes for desktops. You can make them more like a desktop by providing bluetooth input devices and docking stations, but that doesn’t help when using them in meetings, using them instead of laptops on business trips, and at home for after hours work. These devices don’t have to replace the desktop to start consuming more hours of the day. Just a few hours a day will be enough to have my hands involuntarily floating in the air while I sleep.
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