Switch Mouse by Humanscale

November 10, 2008

A new mouse came out on the market a few months back. It is made by Humanscale and it is called the Switch Mouse. As an ergonomist who has performed over 7000 ergonomic assessments, I find this to be the best mouse out on the market currently. It solves so many of the common mousing problems that I see out there. Here are a few selected problems and how the Switch Mouse fixes them. One website I checked had the retail price being $72.00.

First, there are two fields of research concerning input devices. One field of research is concerned with the speed and accuracy of the device such as movement time and less error rate per device. This area of research has found that the use of the fingers and thumb results in better performance and faster target acquisition rate than large muscle groups (arm/shoulder). The majority of commonly used mice are designed to fit into the palm of the hand in a way that utilizes these research findings.

There is a huge problem in the computer world consisting in a high injury rate in the form of repetitive strain injuries affecting the fingers, thumb, wrist, hand, forearm, upper arm, shoulders, neck and upper back. Studies say that the design and use of mice are causes for these types of injuries.

There is a second field of research devoted to testing devices based on how the muscles are used and what positions the body is taking to use the mouse. Awkward postures observed during mousing are wagging the wrist back and forth and wrist extension. This second field of study focuses on body performance while the first field of research mentioned focuses on input device performance.

Mice were designed to fit into the palm of the hand to take advantage of the speed and accuracy of the fingers and thumb. But this design causes many musculoskeletal problems.

The Switch mouse, by being adjustable in size, helps the user to avoid wrist deviation (wagging the wrist back and forth). This allows a greater range of users to use their input device in such a way that almost the entire hand has a place to rest. The white part is somewhat similar to an ordinary mouse, while the black part supports the part of the hand behind the palm closer to the wrist. In this way the whole hand fits on top of the mouse. To get the correct fit for this mouse: place the part of the hand behind the palm closer to the wrist on the black portion of the mouse and if your finger tips reach over the top of the mouse, instead of curling the fingers back to hit the buttons, make the mouse longer. Any hand in the 5-95% size range can use this mouse with a neutral wrist position.

The Switch mouse allows for a more natural hand angle because the designers factored that angle into the design of the mouse. Also, there is an adjustment that can change the angle to make the mouse usable for the right hand as well as the left.

The Switch mouse allows the entire hand from the finger tips almost to the wrist a place to rest. Therefore no wagging the wrist back and forth is necessary!

This is how I describe the proper way to mouse to people I evaluate: the movement needs to start from the shoulder and end with the hand. In a traditional mouse that comes in the box with the computer you just purchased it is very difficult to start the movement from the shoulder. The movement usually starts at the wrist. Try it now, see your own results. So the movement ideally needs to starts from the shoulder. Make little circles (not back and forth, not side to side, but circles) with your mouse. When you use this motion, ideally you want to start the movement from your shoulder. You also want to keep your elbow as close to the side of your body as possible. Since the Switch mouse allows your whole hand a place to rest, it is much easier to start the movement from the shoulder.

I have gotten good user feedback from several people I recommended this mouse to. The only negative feedback that I have received so far is that the top button upon which the thumbs lies on top of has been accidentally hit, so I just tell them to disable that button, so their thumb can lie flat on that part of the mouse.

I have been waiting for years for someone to design a mouse that works, is easy to use, fits a wide number of the population and keeps the wrist and hand in a neutral position. I feel the Swich mouse meets all of my criteria. I highly recommend this mouse to those who have any RSI injuries and to those that are pain free (to keep you that way!)

San Francisco Bay Area Ergonomist
Serafine Janice Lilien, ergoarts
Call me directly at: 650-224-7294

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