15 February 2014

iOS ergonomics

On the Accidental Tech Podcast, John Siracusa posited that perhaps some people in the future will work at a drafting-table-like iOS-like device instead of at a personal computer. Some feedback he got was that this would be ergonomically worse than horizontal keyboard and mouse with vertical monitor.

I do already suffer from “iPad neck” on occasion, but...some thinking out loud...

Firstly, John was making an educated guess. The important point is that for some workers in the future a touch-based device may well replace a PC. We know that there are ergonomic problems with touch-screen PCs, so whatever the workstation looks like, it won’t look just like a PC.

Secondly, ergonomics is overblown. It is important, and for some people it is more important than others. But ergonomics can easily go beyond what is necessary. We don’t need a perfect workplace; we need one that is good enough.

Thirdly, office ergonomics best practices have been built up around the PC. So, it is no surprise that the recommendations favor the PC setup. When our devices no longer look like PCs, new ergonomic advice will be formed.

Fourthly, the most important lesson of ergonomics is to not sit in one posture for too long. Even with the best ergonomically design workspace, people need to not sit in one posture too long. And if you aren’t, then many ergonomic concerns become less important.

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