Ergonomic input device company Contour Design has unveiled its dockable "mousing station," which aims to put your mouse where your hands already are.
The RollerBar Mousing Station made its debut at the National Ergonomic Conference in Las Vegas. It's designed to sit just below the spacebar on a standard keyboard. The device uses an optically controlled touchpad bar that gives you cursor control while your fingers still rest on the "home row" of keys.
The new device is designed to eliminate arm and shoulder stress that comes from reaching away from the keyboard for the mouse, says James Golden, a spokesperson for Contour Design. The RollerBar Mousing Station will be priced at around £100 when it becomes available next year.
"We've been doing ergonomic testing for years, and this is a problem we see people having all the time," Golden says. "When you have to reach for a mouse, you're holding your arm up against gravity."
The RollerBar addresses the problem by putting the cursor control device within what Golden calls the "optimal reach zone" - a 10-inch-square area where the keyboard ideally rests.
While similar to the eraserhead touchpads used on notebook computers, the RollerBar touchpad has a larger surface area as well as a scroll wheel and five programmable buttons. You can customize the buttons to enable clicking, double-clicking, right-clicking, dragging, or any individual keystroke such as backspace.
The RollerBar supports USB and PS/2 connections. (PS/2 is the typical six-pin plug and socket used for keyboards and mice.) It also comes with a built-in pass-through PS/2 plug so you can use a traditional mouse at the same time.
Golden says simply alternating between the RollerBar and a traditional mouse has benefits for the user. "One thing that always helps [in workstation ergonomics] is alternating postures," he says.
Contour Design expects to ship the RollerBar Mousing Station in the first quarter of 2001. Individuals will also be able to order units directly from the Contour Design Web site.