Many years ago, my hands used to ache from typing on the keyboard – a traditional flat keyboard. I purchased a Microsoft Natural Keyboard and I’ve been able to type for hours, hours and hours ever since.
In a survey done by Logitech, the leader in computer peripherals, 35 percent of participants who use their computer most often at work wish they knew how to use their function keys. Forty percent wish it were easier to find important keys without having to look at the keyboard.
Why, you ask, should such small details matter? Who really cares?
With more than $20 billion spent each year on workers compensation costs that are directly attributable to poor computer ergonomics, corporate America cares. Ergonomists are now employed at most Fortune 1000 companies, and looking for technology improvements that boost worker productivity, eliminate lost workdays and improve the bottom line. ( http://www.logitech.com/ )
Every detail of a worker’s environment is considered by ergonomists, right down to the keyboard. With more than two decades spent designing PC peripherals, Logitech has found that when ergonomic principles are addressed, comfort naturally follows.
A case in point is the recent redesign of the company’s keyboards. The ‘Home’ and ‘End’ family of keys were redesigned from a horizontal arrangement to a vertical layout, decreasing the distance between mouse and typing area. The numeric pad is actually detached from the main typing keys on the Logitech(R) diNovo Cordless Desktop(TM), creating more space and flexibility on the desk. In isolation, each adjustment seems small, but together they create a far more intuitive and efficient work environment.
Ergonomic studies play an important role in influencing design decisions. For example, research indicates that reducing keyboard height and thickness reduces the risk of wrist extension, which can lead to hand, forearm and upper extremity discomfort and disorders. Logitech’s new keyboards feature a flatter, thinner, ergonomically beneficial zero degree slope, and introduce the concept of two-handed navigation. By positioning navigation tools on the left side of the keyboard, such as a scroll wheel, Internet Forward and Back buttons and more, both hands work together to make light work of tasks, improving comfort and reducing fatigue.
The devil is in the details, according to many ergonomists. Although thousands of computer-related medical problems have been prevented through workplace ergonomic programs and intervention, the issue is far from contained. As the PC continues to morph into a powerful tool that people of all ages use for work, school, entertainment and play anytime and anywhere, the threat of problems is on the rise.
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