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Project focuses on physical stresses caused by multi-touch electronic devices
Date:6/8/2010

PHOENIX, Ariz. The evolution of computer systems has freed us from keyboards and now is focusing on multi-touch systems, those finger flicking, intuitive and easy to learn computer manipulations that speed the use of any electronic device from cell phones to iPads. But little is known about the long-term stresses on our bodies through the use of these systems.

Now, a team of researchers led by Kanav Kahol of Arizona State University is engaged in a project to determine the effects of long-term musculoskeletal stresses multi-touch devices place on us. The team, which includes computer interaction researchers, kinesiologists and ergonomic experts from ASU and Harvard University, also are developing a tool kit that could be used by designers when they refine new multi-touch systems.

"When we use our iPhone or iPad, we don't naturally think that it might lead to a musculoskeletal disorder," said Kahol, an assistant professor in ASU's Department of Biomedical Informatics. "But the fact is it could, and we don't even know it. We are all part of a large experiment. Multi-touch systems might be great for usability of a device, but we just don't know what it does to our musculoskeletal system."

As we move towards a world where human-computer interaction is based on various body movements that are not well documented or studied we face serious and grave risk of creating technology and systems that may lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), Kahol said.

Many of today's multi-touch systems have no consideration of eliminating gestures that are known to lead to MSDs, or eliminating gestures that are symptomatic of a patient population, Kahol said. This project supported by a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation aims to develop best practices and standards for interactions that are safe and cause minimal user stress while allowing users to fully benefit from the new levels of immersion that multi-touch interac
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Contact: Skip Derra
skip.derra@asu.edu
480-965-4823
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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