Ergonomic Computing and Open Source

Open Hardware – Ergonomics

© Lead Image © Volodymyr Horbovyy, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © Volodymyr Horbovyy, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 212/2018
Author(s):

Finding ergonomic open source software and hardware can be difficult, but it's becoming easier.

Ergonomic computing is a subject that only interests most people when they start having injuries. However, there is much to be said about preventative measures, and, with an aging population, ergonomic devices are becoming increasingly common. However, if you prefer to use ergonomic devices that also use open source software and hardware, the options range from limited to nonexistent.

Choosing ergonomic hardware can be difficult, because there are no standards for using the term. Too often, "ergonomics" is little more than a buzzword. Just as gluten-free can be seen in the grocery store on oranges, nuts, and countless other products that do not have gluten in them to start with, so many devices that are labelled ergonomic are of dubious value for those who wish to minimize the results of repetitive stress or prolonged inactivity. For example, although standing desks have been widely touted as healthier, and even as making users smarter and more productive, such claims are typical of untested devices and should be regarded skeptically. Moreover, some studies suggest that standing desks are no healthier than sitting, and that the problem in both cases is being still for long periods of time [1].

With the verdict still out on such allegedly ergonomic devices, discussing them seems pointless. For that reason, I will focus on three general categories in which ergonomics has been studied more thoroughly: chairs, keyboards, and pointing devices.

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