Type With Your Eye
Researchers at Cambridge University have developed new software that allows people to type with their eyes. This type of software is an important facilitator of communication for those users who may not be able to use traditional keyboard data entry. The software may also provide relief for users who type in Japanese and Chinese languages. These languages have thousands of characters and can require more hand activity to type when using a conventional keyboard.
According to the researchers, the system is faster than other eyetracking systems producing up to 25 words per minute compared to the 15 word per minute currently possible. They also claim the new system makes less spelling mistakes and is less stressful for the user.
Source: BBC News, August 2002.
A Swell Day at the Office
In addition to possibly contributing to musculoskeletal disorders and lower productivity, the wrong office chair for you might also affect your circulatory system according to a study in the journal Ergonomics.
The study supported some ‘common sense’ theories that sitting in one posture for too long is not a good thing. According to the Norwegian study, sitting in one place for too long prevents adequate blood circulation and causes swelling in the lower legs and ankles.
You can prevent that by taking frequent breaks and walking around, or by having a foot rest that tilts and lets you move your feet. Another prevention method suggested in the study is to get a chair with a seat that has a backwards tilt.
In one study done in Oslo, when workers were moved from non-tilting chairs to chairs that had a backwards angle, fixed or rocking, the swelling in their calves and ankles went down in less than 30 minutes.
A backward tilted position is one working posture recognized in current office workstation design and set up guidelines. A chair which supports this position is also recommended.
Ergonomics for Better Bikes
Can retractable handlebars make bikes more ‘ergonomic’ and safer for children? This is one proposition made by US researchers who found that in child cycling accidents that do not involve a car, up to 80% of internal injuries to abdominal and pelvic organs are associated with hitting the handlebars. They estimated the total costs of handlebar injuries for 1997 included $9.6 million in hospital charges, $10 million in lifetime medical costs, $11.5 million in lifetime productivity losses and $503.9 million in long-term disability costs.
The researchers propose making a more ergonomic handlebar. An ‘ergonomic’ design would be one that took into account the user – a child’s body, and the potential environment or situation of use – a crash, and then finding a way to lessen the potential for injury. One of the suggestions is to make handlebars that are retractable. Researchers in the UK aren’t sold on this solution. Roger Vincent, spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) told BBC News Online: “Handlebar injuries are not a major problem in this country, but we do hear of some injuries.” He said British Standards had largely eradicated problems with handlebars which could cause injury.
The US study can be found in the American Medical Association’s journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.