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The Inconvenience of Ergonomics

Put your hands out in front of you.

Press your fingers on both hands against each other, and arch your palms back.

Now push your fingers towards each other with moderate strength for about 10 seconds.

Do your hands feel numb?

According to a friend, that’s an early warning sign for RSI (repetitive strain injury). Using your hands in ways that they were not built to be used, for too long, threatening to turn what may be a dull numbness now into acute pain in due time.

I’ve been working on computers for a living now for over a decade, and have been using technology in its various forms for most of my life. Modern computing is built on visual design, but not with much consideration for the ergonomics of its users; phones and tablets and laptops and even cameras are uncomfortable to use for extended periods of time.

Some industry have tried to address this issue in multiple ways. There are pieces of ergonomic hardware – keyboard and mice and trackballs and monitor arms – that forgo pretty design for usability, but never come standard with computing devices and tend to be more expensive. There is software that instruct moments of rest and ergonomic exercises, but their effectiveness is highly dependent on their users’ motivations.

The fact is, ergonomics does not sell to the general public, and most of those who care already suffer from some degree of RSI. The problem is that, given the prevalence of smartphones in the modern world, the problem may grow from being occupational to a widespread generational malaise.

By allen
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