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Ergonomic Product Categories > Trackballs
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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).

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 Balancing.

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 non-linear fashion.

What are Potential Concerns when Considering a Trackball?
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 provides.

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 Suitable? 
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 Trackball?
Trackballs can be of benefit to a wide variety of users including individuals with hand conditions such as arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and DeQuervains Tenosyvitus.  Due to the reduced hand movement required, they also are of potential benefit to individuals with Rotator Cuff, Bursitis and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.



Last edited December 16th, 2013

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