Million Dollar Idea

My wrist/hand/forearm has been acting up again. That's prompted me to research RSI some more, both on the internet and with a book I got (Dr. Pascareli's…). I've also been thinking about pointing devices (I know it's very exciting but try to stay calm).

I have an Evoluent VerticalMouse at work, and it does help a lot but it has two main weaknesses in my eyes: 1, it still requires you to pinch the mouse to move it and causes some strain when you click it's buttons or especially when using the scroll wheel; and 2, I tend to get lazy and rest my wrist or forearm just like with a regular mouse, predictably leading to soreness.

So, anyway, the idea I had the other day was this: why not a vertical touchpad instead of a vertical mouse?  I've never been a fan of touchpads but I've used Heather's new laptop a bit lately and obviously the technology has improved over the years.  A vertical touchpad would combine the advantages of a touchpad (low grip and finger pressure) and a vertical mouse (better posture and no wrist rotation).  Additioanlly, if the touchpad was raised above the level of the desk or wristrest even slightly, it would pretty much forcibly prevent me from operating it with my hand anchored.

A related idea I had is to replace the standard buttons most touchpads come with with two small "touch buttons" (small touch pads in themselves.  You could even just divide a larger touchpad with a plastic overlay to segregrate the "button" regions.  Some touchpads are headed in this direction with special regions at the corners or edge of the pad but the borders of these areas are invisible.  They would be far faster and easier to use than the current setups.  And touch buttons would require significantly less strain to"click" then physical buttons.

While we're at it, I'm not satisfied with either scroll wheels or scroll areas on the side of touchpads (the latter are especially cranky or, forgive me, "touchy") .  My solution would be something similar to the analog sticks found on video game controllers.  I relaize the idea exists in the form of pointing sticks on laptops, but increasing the size, slaving them to just go up and down, and have a greater range of scrolling speeds would all make for a better scrolling device.

Maybe I should get someone to build a prototype and patent this myself.  But with my procrastination skills, it'd probably be 15+ years before I got off my ass and did anything about it.  So I think I'll email a couple ergonomic pointing device manufacturers and see if I can get one of them to run with it.  I wonder if I can MacGuyver something together in the meantime? 

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