It’s Friday! We are so excited that the weekend is finally here! Every Friday, we will be continuing our reviews on equipment and devices.
Last week we reviewed the Evoluent Mouse.
This week we will be reviewing the Humanscale Switch Mouse. To take a look at our links to this product, you might have to turn off any ad-blockers that may be running in your web browser.
The Humanscale Switch mouse looks like a typical, conventional mouse, but tilted on its side at approximately a 45 degree angle. Tilting the mouse is considered to be more of a neutral or ‘handshake’ working posture, and by doing so should reduce some of the ergonomic concerns associated with a conventional mouse type. This, as well as other points will be discussed below!
Design. The 45 degree tilt is an intriguing approach to this mouse design and by doing so reaches a unique portion of the marketplace:
The Humanscale Switch Mouse may be attractive for those who find a vertical mouse (90 degree) mouse too extreme, but at the same time find that the conventional mouse design does not work for them either.
With its angled design, this mouse limits the amount of pronation (palm down postures) that can be the root cause of some peoples ergonomic symptoms. For instance, some of my past clients have found this mouse to be beneficial at reducing some symptoms associated with Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis). But, a word of caution: a thorough causal analysis of workplace risks will steer mouse selection. Sidenote: If you would be interested in something like this, then please leave a comment below or subscribe to our newsletter!
One last point: since this mouse is essentially a conventional mouse that is tilted, there will likely be no ‘training period’ to learn how to operate this mouse.
90+ Percentile Design. Another unique design element is that it has a simple ratchet system, shown below. This is useful for two reasons:
- Useful for those with large hands, who normally would find it difficult to find a mouse that would comfortably fit their hands.
- This design makes it incredible useful to use in a multi-user workstation. By having a mouse that can adjust in size, it would be able to accommodate a large selection of the workforce.
Ambidextrous Design. Why would you want to have a mouse that can be used with either the left or right hands? Well, to put bluntly, there are many advantages!
- Similar angled types of designed mouses (the Evoluent or Handshoe), require two separate mice to be able to alternate between mousing arms. At $100, at least, per mouse this can be a limiting factor for a lot of people. The really intriguing thing about the Switch Mouse’s design, and this initially caught my interest, is that it can easily be switched between left handed and right handed mousing. This is done by flipping around an insert that snaps below it.
- This design can be incredibly useful from either a preventative or reactive perspective to ergonomics. This mouse encourages the user to easily switch between either left or right handed mousing by its simple and straightforward mechanism, an angled plastic insert that can be pulled out and flipped around, as illustrated to the picture to the right.
- Preventative Approach: Switching between hands reduces the accumulated and long-term strain that would otherwise occur in just one arm.
- Reactive Approach: The angled and ambidextrous design can be incredibly useful in accommodating staff with chronic conditions or who are returning-to-work.
Scroll Button. As opposed to a wheel scroll, you must press a button to navigate the scroll function. Although there is not a lot of force to press down on this button it is both frequent and sustained. I found this to be uncomfortable for my fingers after using the Switch Mouse for some time. If this mouse is being used to accommodate a user with a chronic condition, such as arthritis, this mouse may not be the best fit.
Gap in Mouse. As mentioned above, to enlarge the size of the mouse, the mouse is pulled apart with a ratchet-type system. This leaves a gap between the base/palm of the mouse and where the buttons/fingers rest, as shown to the picture to the left. The larger the user’s hand, the larger the gap. Users may be tempted to hold the weight of their hands when using this mouse, otherwise known as a static posture, since there is no longer a place to rest it on mouse’s body. Holding this static hand posture over a prolonged period of time can result in fatigue and perhaps discomfort in some users.
The ambidextrous and angled design of the Humanscale Switch Mouse makes it quite attractive from the Ergonomics standpoint. However, this must be weighed against a scroll button (instead of scroll wheel), especially for user’s with chronic conditions such as arthritis.
If you are interested in this type of mouse, I recommend trying it for between one and two weeks to ensure you can make a fully informed decision before purchasing.
Some vendors (especially if they are local!) may let you ‘test drive’ a device before purchasing or they might have a good return policy.
Alternatively, if you are an Ergonomics coordinator, consider using an ‘Ergonomic Showroom’ that allows staff to sign-out devices on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I used this method when I managed the Ergonomics program for a large organization (10,000+ employees) and I often received glowing reviews of this program!