660 - What's Next: fully ergonomic laptops? | VentureBeat

When the first laptops were created around 1979 laptops like the Grid Compass ergonomics was not exactly a core concern. The screens were only 2-4 inches, RAM was a few hundred kilobytes, and batteries were huge. The Osbourne 1 weighed 24 pounds, perhaps making it the first portable computer and dumbbell. Hooray for convergence! Modern clamshell and tablet designs have solved many of these issues: screen sizes exceed 17”, RAM can be several gigabytes, and weight can be less than three pounds, deservedly earning names like the Air. What hasn’t been solved is ergonomics, and that’s a costly problem. The U.S. Department of Labor reported 650,000 cases of work-related muscular disorders, costing businesses an estimated $20 billion in medical claims and lost productivity. An ergonomically ideal computer setup aligns the top of the screen with our eye level, lets our arms and wrists straighten, and allows our shoulders to relax. Because laptop screens are attached to their keyboards, they require a damaging trade-off: place the laptop at eye level and hunch our shoulders, or place the keyboard at arm level and bend our neck. Most laptop keyboards are also rectangles, requiring wrist twisting. The result is chronic neck, shoulder, and wrist pain, and with laptop use increasing, this problem will only get worse.

2010-09-30 17:01:07