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Ergonomic Product Categories > Touchpads
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What are Touchpads?

Touchpads are a unique class of pointing devices which utilize a flat low-friction, durable specialized surface which translates the motion of the fingertips of a user into mousing actions.  Various technologies are used, most of which are capacitance based and respond to precise finger movements by creating an electronic field which is changed as a finger enters it, and moves within that field. 

What are the Ergonomic Benefits of a Touchpad?
Touchpads eliminate the ability of the user to pinch or grip the mouse which eliminates the common risk factor of Static Grip Force and help address Trigger Finger (and associated fatigue with clicking) as clicks are generated by lightly tapping the touchpad surface.  Instead of 'grip and click' the user can 'glide and tap'.

Touchpads help to reduce Overextension (awkward reach) and arm and wrist movement as touchpads do not need to be moved to achieve cursor control.  Touchpads can also be angled in any direction while moving the cursor, allowing the hand to be aligned straight with the forearm, reducing any bending at the wrist (Ulnar or Radial deviation).

Touchpads are compact ambidextrous pointing devices, which allow the user to place them to the left, the right, in front of, on top of, even in between sections of the keyboard or on the leg of the individual.  This also permits effortless switching between left and right handed mousing, permitting Load Balancing.

Touchpads can even be positioned in a vertical orientation, eliminating Pronation of the hand (i.e. instead of using them 'palm down' they can be used in a 'handshake' position), by attaching them to the edge of a keyboard or other items using velcro or double-sided tape.

What are Potential Concerns when Considering a Touchpad?
Touchpads can be difficult for some users to become accustomed to as they change the paradigm of mousing substantially.  If a user is accustomed to a traditional mouse, they may feel 'out of control' or experience a sense of lack of precision which accompanies the type of interface that a touchpad provides.

Touchpads have a physical limitation;  unlike a mouse, at some point the user will reach the edge of the surface of the touchpad if moving in one direction at a low enough acceleration.  While there are technologies and features to address this limitation, it is a consideration. 

Touchpads also have real limitations with respect to precision and typically are not suitable for intense graphical work or precise actions on large multi-monitor systems.

For What Types of Tasks / Users are Touchpads Suitable? 
Touchpads serve as complete mouse replacements for most users apart from users requiring very intense and precise control when mousing.  Touchpads are suitable for almost everyone and all tasks other than those that graphic artists, intense gamers and CAD designers typically perform.

What Physical Injuries or Conditions Typically Benefit from a Touchpad?
Touchpads can be of benefit to a wide variety of users including individuals with hand conditions such as arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and DeQuervains Tenosynovitus.  Due to the minimal movement required, they also are of potential benefit to individuals with Rotator Cuff, Bursitis and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.



Last edited December 9th, 2013

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