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Ergonomic Gear For A Better Life

Why Stop at Hands?

Another Kinesis design we got to try out is the Savant Elite triple foot switch ($149). In many applications, there are repetitive keystroke sequences that take your fingers away from the main keyset. Programmers may have commands that need to appear repeatedly at the start of each code line. Gamers might have instructions for weapons switching or reloading. Personally, I record interviews with an Olympus digital recorder, then transcribe the interviews with Olympus’ DSS Player application. To start playback, I have to press CTRL + ALT + F12. Rewind is CTLR + ALT + F9. So every few seconds, I have to take my hands away from typing and do these crazy key combinations.

With the Kinesis foot switch, you can program any sequence of keystrokes to execute with the press or release of a foot pedal. So for me, pressing the center pedal starts playback and releasing stops it. The right pedal rewinds and the left fast forwards. Olympus makes (or at least used to make) a foot pedal for this application, but they’re hard to find now and apparently don’t work on my system under Windows 7. Because the Kinesis product uses standard Windows drivers backed by instructions written to the product itself, it works perfectly—and the pedals are wide enough that I no longer have to take my shoe off to operate it.

The only catch is that, today, the pedals have to be programmed with a utility under either Windows 2000 or XP. (Of course, you can do this under Windows 7 with XP Mode.) For $10, Kinesis techs will do this programming for you based on the keystroke commands you provide before shipping you the product.

The beauty of Kinesis products is that not only do they improve your health, they also improve your efficiency and performance. There’s no question that my transcription goes much faster with the Elite Savent because I never actually have to stop typing. Do you have applications that might similarly benefit? If you can take the time to adapt Kinesis products to your needs, and vice versa, you won’t regret it.

  • Luscious
    I'm quite surprised your focus is on ergonomics yet you haven't mentioned anything at all about trackballs. I've been using a Logitech Track Man Wheel for close to 4 years paired with my notebook. They have many advantages over mice, not the least being ergonomically superior.
  • ryanegeiger
    I agree... what about trackballs?
  • Supertrek32
    I've been using the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 for a few years now and must say that I love it. Very comfortable. I also reprogrammed the back/forward buttons to control media player (via Microsoft's intellitype software), which is incredibly hand for someone like me who has a large music collection and might not be in the mood for a certain genre one day.
  • IzzyCraft
    ryanegeigerI agree... what about trackballs?trackballs are perfect for work only situations esp with limited desk space.
  • ddrcoder
    I've used a Kinesis for years (I'm typing this with one right now), and I must say they're the best keyboards ever made. I've found that they relieved stress in my hands/wrists. I recommended them to a friend who couldn't touch type and as he got used to the keyboard, he quickly learned. He can now type at 60WPM, I can type at 100WPM.

  • Trackballs, why have they been blackballed? Everyone I loan my spare, I have three new ones just in case they stop selling them, Logitech mouse man marble to they immediately buy one for themselves.
    My friend has CTS and cannot use a regular mouse with one hand because of the strain, trackball fixed him right up. Not only are they friendlier on the wrist the require vastly less desk space, they are easier to control and for precision work nothing beats a trackball.

    My Gaming (counterstrike: source, UT2004, UT3, half life, team fortress, day of defeat,etc) buddies all have crazy expensive uber dpi programmable gaming mice that have lasers, and my 20$ trackball whips 'em every time. Why? no wasted movement, my arm is completely stationary when mousing, my fingers can keep the ball fluid and moving in one direction without having to lift it up, move it ove,r set it down, and continue mousing, one quick flick of the finger and the ball goes spinning in the desired direction, all while my arm is relaxed and stationary.

    They are in fact perfect in play situations too.
    How about some trackball love?
  • coconutboy
    I like these kinds of articles. Currently I own a logitech MX Revolution, it's my ~5th logi mouse (I also own a cordless logitech trackball), but really all these have just been because I couldn't find anything better including the gazillion specialized ergo mice on the market. I just wish someone would make an upright/joystick-like mouse that also includes-

    a trackball
    scroll wheel or similar device
    4 buttons minimum (5+ preferred) that users can define as forward/back/whatever.

    I've tried many mice including the 3M joystick, Zero Tension Mouse and Evoluent upright. Those were somewhat better in terms of comfort but sacrificed buttons/functionality. As a result my last 4 or so mice have all been Logitech with my current being the MX Revolution but that's because of the extra buttons and its awesome scroll wheel, NOT the comfort which is just average.

    William Van WinkleI was able to try out Logitech’s MK605 notebook kit ($100)... The keyboard and mouse are okay, and they are decently compact for travel, but I wish the stand were available separately.
    The stand can be purchased individually for $30. Linkage-,en
  • williamvw
    The stand can be purchased individually for $30. Linkage- 4&cl=us,en
    Oh, bonus! Thanks for pointing that out, coconutboy. Again -- highly recommended.
  • tapeglue
    Less known help for wrist pain can be a computer armrest. I have been using one called Restman 1 for a few months now and it indeed makes me forget about my wrist problem. I got it from
  • trifler
    I find that mice with higher dpi allow me to turn up the speed without losing any of the control. This greatly reduces the amount of necessary wrist movement to use a mouse. Therefore, I actually choose the Logitech G500 (5700dpi) for ergonomic reasons rather than for gaming reasons.