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AirO2bic Mouse™
Click-Less™

The computer supply market has been awash with "ergonomic" products that have no measurable benefit, even to the point that one Professor of Computer Ergonomics publicly stated that the term Ergonomics has been so over used that it no longer represents any standard by which a user can gauge any benefit from a product so described. It would be understandable that readers of these pages could be skeptical about another "wonder" product sold at a high price on the basis of fear. Please know this isn't so, the issue is that the mainstream market players have the volume and purchasing power, we have niche market costs and the research; one day we'll hopefully meet in the middle.

The greatest fear is that of the unknown, the issues of RSI are now better understood, which is how by looking at them clinically, we are we able to start to solve them. Our focus was on the detail of how the body works and what can go askew at the biochemical level so cause problems. What we realized was that our bodies are not letting us down by what they do, but we are demanding too much of them in what we ask. They are working correctly for as long as they can and then we ask them to continue beyond that point.

The challenge we face in correcting this mismatch is in the reducing the scale of the task that we ask our bodies to perform. We are dealing with a task that requires the performance of typically up to 2,000,000 repetitions a year, clicking mouse buttons, under a circumstance in which the muscles of the hand are under tension, as when gripping a mouse. Finger muscles are only tensed momentarily when typing, a small yet subtle difference. If you move your cursor only 2 inches between clicks that is over 60 miles of movement across your mouse mat each year.

Most of the ignorance underlying the RSI problem is the lack of appreciation of the scale and the amplification effects that this level of work can produce coupled with a lack of understanding of work patterns and poor tool design. We commonly say there is a one in a million chance of something happening, meaning it is unlikely. If an event that could lead to RSI was that unlikely then that event could happen, for most of us, once a year from mouse clicking alone if we click 5,000 times a day for a 222 day average year. Add to this gripping the equivalent of 750 tons or more a year, which is the reality and possibility likely turns into probability, which is what the Atlanta Study indicates.

We've already introduced the concept of force, load and distance, so, as we are as equally subject to the laws of physics as the cars we drive, we'll use that as a simple analogy. If a car design is good for 100,000 miles you decide how long you want to keep it for and restrict the mileage to achieve that goal. Unfortunately replacements limbs are not so easy to come by and so once we accept that there is a physical constraint with current technology design then we must either limit our use of the limb with that technology, which is not an option for the self employed nor an employer friendly suggestion, or accept that there is a finite period to be able to do that work. Even this would not be so bad if it were not for the fact that we only know we have reached that limit when we are injured and in pain. However any engineer will tell you that the mileage is simply a marker for the amount of "wear" that is incurred by a design, so if we redesign to reduce wear then our operable mileage limit should increase?

We can cover many aspects that indicate the wear placed upon us by mousing with grip, with twisted wrists and clicking mouse buttons, but from an engineering standpoint, if you take the load off of the components that fail then they are less likely to fail so increasing the mileage expectation. In other words, if you do not use the muscles and joints that can become injured, then, regardless of the reasons as to why they injure, they are far less likely to fail!

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