From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Get Mice to Give Up Their Restrictive Habits

In an attempt to free the mouse of some of its potential repetitive injury-inducing habits, programmers working with the Mozilla’s open-source team plan to release an upgrade tomorrow to a mouse-gestures project known as Optimiz.

According an article on CNET, the Optimiz project, one of a few possibly in the works by different industry members, seeks to replace the traditional point-and-click commands associated with today’s common computer mouse.

Using a set of gestures to replace tedious tasks like scrolling up or down a page, sending a mouse across a screen to the “Back” button, or repeating almost any repetitive task, the Optimiz project is intended to improve efficiency and convenience for the user. While using a quick cheat to replace a more arduous task on screen isn’t a new concept – most software can be used with keyboard commands, macros or hot keys — studies have shown that using a simple gesture like moving the mouse to the right or left to indicate page forward or back, is more efficient, natural and user-appealing.

“The tried-and-true, point-and-click method of getting things done still has its place,” said David Perry, a programmer at the University of Toronto who is participating in the project, in the CNET article. “The motion of performing a gesture is more natural than sliding the mouse over to a button or menu. And because it works anywhere in the window (not just on the button), it saves a bit of time and effort, especially as screens get bigger and you have to move farther to reach a button,” Perry said.

Computer users are warm to the idea as well. A study by Michael Moyle and Andy Cockburn with the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand showed that using gestures significantly increases efficiency. Additionally, Moyle and Cockburn’s study participants preferred using mouse gestures, informally called a “flick” system (referring to the quick flick of the wrist required to do traditionally more tedious tasks in the point-and-click world) to other mouse input methods.

The project’s inspiration comes from the Opera 5.11 web browser that allows a user to return to a previous page by holding down a button and sliding the mouse to the left instead of moving the cursor to the back button.

For Windows users, Jeffrey Doozan, founder of TCB Networks, is working on mouse gesture commands for the Windows operating system that can work with any application running in Windows. Through his website Doozan is taking feedback and attempting to customize mouse gestures to fit the users’ wishes.