Ergonomics in the workplace inspires vertical mouse design | Blayney Chronicle

A vertical ergonomic computer mouse. Picture: Shutterstock.

“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”

This expression has been taken literally by many inventors with over 4400 mousetrap patents issued by the US Patents office alone.

But what about the mouse? Not the cheese-nibbling kind that may end up in a mousetrap, but the computer mouse variety.

Surely, since the creation of the first prototype of a mouse in 1964, we have arrived at a model that has little room left for innovation.

Throughout history there are times when humans have a reputation there is no development left in product only for revolutionary ideas to spring forward.

We may be about to see that with the humble mouse we all take for granted.

Despite the early creation of the mouse, early personal computers were based on text based operating systems that relied on commands typed in via a keyboard.

Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) were created to make it easier for people who were not computer experts to use a computer.

Where it all started

At the beginning of 1984, Apple revolutionized the personal computer market when they introduced the Macintosh computer.

It was the first personal computer to feature a mouse and GUI. With that one model, people could see themselves using a device that previously seemed overly complicated.

Microsoft upgraded their operating system, known as MS-DOS, with a Windows version by the end of 1985.

Now the GUI was mainstream and, of course, a mouse was an integral part of every personal computer.

The Apple Macintosh released in 1984. Picture: Shutterstock.

The Apple Macintosh released in 1984. Picture: Shutterstock.

The early days

Those early computers featured a very basic shaped mouse, usually with one button.

A ball underneath the device was primarily used to track the movement of the mouse across a desk, but it also seemed to have an additional feature of collecting every piece of lint on your desk and clogging up the operating wheels inside the mouse.

Regular cleaning was required.

Early users also found they had to re-train their brains in spatial awareness.

Moving a mouse on a horizontal plane to translate it to a vertical plane on a screen is not natural.

I remember delivering training courses for people that had never used a computer.

When I asked a group to move their mouse so the cursor went up the screen, many users lifted their mouse from the desk.

Over the next four decades, the shape of the mouse changed.

The technology to track movement went from a wheel to laser reflection with even some that relied on spatial awareness.

Additional main buttons and side buttons were added along with a scroll wheel.

The original name of the mouse came from the look of the device with the cord looking like a tail but most are now cordless therefore removing the “tail” from the device.

Trackpads and balls were tested but we have typically ended up with a device that we sit our hands on horizontally and move around.

Ergonomics in the workplace is now of much greater importance and it is from that angle that the next revolution in a computer mouse may occur.

Going vertical

Logitech have released their “vertical” mouse.

Instead of having your hand horizontal to the desk, the vertical mouse sits your hand closer to the vertical at approximately the same angle you would have if you were shaking hands with someone.

The mouse still has multiple buttons and a scroll wheel and it still moves across a desk like a traditional mouse, but changing the angle of your hand may be the greatest revolution since the wheel was discarded for the laser mouse.

Tell me what you would design in a mouse at [email protected]

  • Mathew Dickerson is a technologist, futurist and host of the Tech Talk podcast.
This story Ergonomics in the workplace inspires vertical mouse design first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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