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Ergonomic Product Categories > Keyboards > Separated Keyboards
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Separated Keyboards

What are Separated Keyboards?

A Separated Keyboard is a distinct subset of Adjustable Keyboards which offer additional positioning capabilities.  These keyboards are capable of physically separating into two distinct pieces which are only connected by a bridging cable, providing a vast improvement on the ability of the keyboard to accommodate any user or workspace.  Additional mechanisms and capabilities can be added with accessories or deployable assets within the design of the Separated Keyboard.

What are the Ergonomic Benefits of a Separated Keyboard?

The first ergonomic benefit is derived from the introduction of a user-configurable separation between the portion of the keyboard utilized by the left and right hand.  By changing the separation and angle between the keyboard sections, the keyboard can be positioned according to the personal Anthropometrics of the individual.  The user can ensure that there is no requirement to twist the wrist when using the keyboard, eliminating any possibility of Ulnar Deviation.  For many users, an Adjustable Keyboard can achieve this goal, but at the expense of the elbows and shoulders.  In order to straighten their wrists, some users find that their elbows have to 'bow outward' (as in the Chicken Dance) or are 'forced inward'.  A Separated Keyboard allows all users to type with no twist in their wrist, with their elbows relaxed at their sides in the neutral position and their shoulders square to their body (with no hint of 'curling' forward or awkward rotation).  Now a theoretical line formed by the elbow, forearm, through the wrist and the middle finger of the user can be perpendicular to the plane of the keyboard without any twisting at the wrist, movement at the elbow, or rotation at the shoulder joint.

The second ergonomic benefit arises from the introduction of a user-configurable 'tent' in the keyboard.  By separating both sides of the keyboard, any desired inclination can be created.  This includes the common 'thumbs up' posture which reduces Pronation of the hands while typing, or even an eliminated of Pronation if the keyboard is adjusted to a vertical orientation.   

The third ergonomic benefit arises from the common design requirement that separated keyboards must be relatively symmetrical, and as such lack a discrete numeric keypad (typically opting for an embedded numeric keypad instead).  This helps to address the risk factor of Overextension for the mouse.

The fourth ergonomic benefit is the versatility that a separated design affords.  Provided a sufficiently long bridging cable is available, users can mount each half of the keyboard to the arms of their chair, or even more non-standard orientations to address the personal needs of any user.

What are Potential Concerns when Considering a Separated Keyboard?

Some non-height adjustable Articulating Arms may not lower sufficiently to accommodate the vertical tent of a Separated Keyboard.  Another consideration is the risk of Wrist Extension that is caused by tenting the keyboard and failing to provide a Palm Support to prevent the wrists from 'dropping' off the now more significant vertical profile.

Some ergonomic devices are not compatible with Separated Keyboards.  For example, certain types of Writing Surfaces may be incompatible in certain circumstances with Separated Keyboards (due to either their separation or their height).

For What Types of Tasks / Users are Separated Keyboards Suitable? 

While individuals of all levels of keyboarding skill are suitable potential users of Separated Keyboards, the split inherent in this type of keyboard will force users to become better typists as they will find it almost impossible to type letters on the left half of the keyboard with their right hand, and vice versa.  In this sense, Separated Keyboards may assist hunt-and-peck typists along the road to becoming touch typists.

What Physical Injuries or Conditions Typically Benefit from Separated Keyboards?

Separated Keyboards can be of benefit to a wide variety of users including individuals with wrist conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Guyon's Canal Syndrome.  Due to their tenting capabilities, they also typically benefit individuals with Lateral Epicondylitis and Medial Epicondylitis.  As they also reduce the amount of movement to use the mouse, they are of potential benefit to individuals with Rotator Cuff, Bursitis and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.



Last edited February 4, 2014

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