Sunday, May 29, 2005

New keyboard designs alleviate repetitive strain

"A decade ago, there was much talk about keyboards causing repetitive-motion injuries. Attention was focused on ergonomics, and leading manufacturers, including Microsoft Corp., introduced special curved and split keyboards.

If you're like me, though, those keyboards didn't solve the problem. Months ago, I started getting tingling and numbness is my lower left arm, probably the result of typing. It wasn't painful, but the odd feeling occasionally made it hard to sleep. The phenomenon isn't uncommon among my colleagues.

I decided this was a good time to test a new generation of ergonomic keyboards that break a rule of keyboard design you've probably never thought about.

But switching to the EZ-Reach did something. The numbness started receding. I'm not sure if this is because the mere act of changing keyboards relieved overused tendons, or if the keyboard really did what it was supposed to.

A small study cited by TypeMatrix showed that 21 of 24 participants who complained of repetitive strain injury before switching to TypeMatrix felt better after five weeks, so I'm willing to give the company the benefit of the doubt.

I found the Kinesis board very comfortable. The cup-shaped keypads mean only minimal movement is needed to hit each key, and the hands move very little. The wide separation of the keypads mean the arms don't need to angle in." (Via Chicago Tribune)

Kenesis Keyboard - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Usability

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