Great research from the Gartner Group! Gartner has been tracking the acceptance and use of new technologies; in particular, the acceptance of newer touchscreen technology. What was once the fantasy of the Star Trek and Star Wars generations (I am a Star Wars kid – Star Trek was already in re-runs – REALLY) is now reality; Kindle, iPod, iPhone, iPad…the list goes on and on.
Touchscreen is a game-changer that increases user productivity. What’s surprising, is the slow adoption of BUSINESS to adopt the new technology. According to Gartner,
The immediate productivity gains promised by the flood of touch-enabled devices coming to market in 2010 will be slow to materialize in the enterprise.
For more on the Gartner research follow this link – http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1336913
I asked our ERGOLAB team about the growing touchscreen use; some food for thought about the Ergonomic implications;
- Parents should continue to proactively manage their children’s use of ALL technology, regardless of interface (keyboard, mouse or touchscreen). The inherent risk of long-term use of computing or gaming tools are about body postures while using ANY technology. Out-of-neutral body postures over time contribute to pain, discomfort and eventual injury. Parents, for more guidance on your kids and avoiding Ergonomic issues – check out our blog post http://bit.ly/ERGOLABKids
- Any touchscreen requires the user to sit within arm’s reach of the device. Simply replacing a traditional computer monitor with a touch-enabled screen is not acceptable. In most cases, this new screen will be outside of the acceptable ‘Reach envelope’. What is the Reach Envelope?
The following tool (image provided by John Wick of J&J Consulting) is used to layout and organize seated workstations to ensure that there are no extreme posture requirements and to ensure that the individual is primarily assuming neutral working postures.
The point of operation should be within the primary zone (within 14”) “where the hands do the work”. The location of tools (phone books, files, stapler, phone, calculator, etc.) can cause extreme ranges of motion in the wrist, elbows, shoulders and back and should be placed within the secondary zone in order to eliminate extreme positions (within 24”) of the individual and laterally 45 degrees from the shoulder (figure 1) (1). This criterion is based on anthropometric data representing 90% of the population. Those either under 4’11” or over 6’2” may need further accommodations.
- Most of the new touch-enabled tools are mobile, hand held devices. Our recent blog posts on the Apple iPad scratch the surface of the Ergonomic issues related to this new category of touch-enabled tools.
The Apple iPad has all the Ergonomic challenges associated with the laptop AND takes another step in the WRONG DIRECTION. Typing on the iPad touchscreen while the iPad rests on a flat surface will force the neck into more extreme static neck flexion or extension depending on the users posture. Eye strain is also a risk. TRANSLATED – typing on the iPad for any stretch of time will create neck pain, possible eye strain and could cause injury.
The ability to attach a keyboard to the iPad (the iPad Dock) was a good move by Apple; but no consideration was given into the lack of adjustability of the height of the screen once it is attached to the iPad Dock. This was a missed opportunity by Apple to address head-on the Ergonomic issues related to laptop use (these issues are well-documented). The ability to telescope the iPad up and down would allow the iPad to be adjusted to the proper height for the user, ensuring neutral neck postures and subsequently, comfortable viewing.
What are your thoughts on touchscreen technology and the Ergonomic implications? We’d love to hear from you.
If you’d like to connect directly on this blog post or any Ergonomic issue, I can be reached by phone 401.527.7047 or e-mail email@example.com.