What are Trackballs?
Trackballs are a unique class of pointing devices which have
the user manipulate a spherical ball to generate mousing
actions. Various technologies are used to track the
movement of the ball, most commonly optical sensors which
allow precise capturing of movement data. The user moves
the ball using their fingertips and/or hand, which typically
also can involve movement at the wrist.
What are the Ergonomic Benefits of a Trackball?
Trackballs eliminate the ability of the user to pinch or grip
the mouse which eliminates the common risk factor of Static
Grip Force. Instead of gripping a static mouse the
user can spin a dynamic sphere.
Trackballs help to reduce Overextension
(awkward reach) and arm and wrist movement when reaching for a
device as trackballs do not need to be moved on the
worksurface to achieve cursor control. Trackballs 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).
What are Potential Concerns when Considering a Trackball?
Trackballs are compact ambidextrous pointing devices, which
allow the user to place them to the left, the right, in front
of, and even in between sections of the keyboard, on the leg
of the individual. This also permits effortless
switching between left and right handed mousing, permitting Load
Trackballs are capable of far more range of acceleration than
most mousing devices in that fingertip movements for fine work
are easily performed, and when a gross movement is required
(to move between multiple monitors for example), the trackball
can be 'spun' to achieve the same action as many repetitive
movements. Many higher quality trackballs even have
'dynamic acceleration' which means that the speed at which the
ball is moved increases the acceleration of the cursor in a
Trackballs 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 trackball
Trackballs also can encourage some people to 'flick their wrist'
excessively instead of moving a balanced combination of the
fingers, hand and wrist.
Trackballs also typically have a significant vertical profile,
making them poor companions for ultra-flat keyboards.
For What Types of Tasks / Users are Trackballs
Trackballs serve as complete mouse replacements for any user,
even those requiring very intense and precise control when
mousing. Trackballs are suitable for everyone and all
tasks, including the highly specialized needs of graphic
artists, intense gamers and CAD designers.
What Physical Injuries or Conditions Typically Benefit from a
Trackballs can be of benefit to a wide variety of users
including individuals with hand conditions such as arthritis, Carpal
Due to the reduced hand movement
required, they also are of potential benefit to individuals with
Rotator Cuff, Bursitis and Cubital