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I just read something interesting on touch screen laptop and notebook computers computers on Wikipedia. I immediately had this image in my mind of some 90 pound computer geeky looking kid walking around with Popeye like arms. That’s not what gorilla arm syndrome means but it was a fun image to hold onto for a moment.
Will Gorilla Arm Syndrome Affect Touch Screen Laptop Users?
People are simply not designed to interact well with vertically oriented touch screen laptop monitors.  Repeated motions of our arms above the waist make it difficult for the user to make very precise movements.  After a lot of use, arms may become fatigued and the efficiency hoped to be gained by touch screen interfaces, could be lost.

People who use touch screen laptop computers for very long may begin to have movements resembling that of a gorillas since their arms become tired.  This makes their arms feel heavy and they become clumsy in their movements.  Hence, the term “gorilla arm” was coined.

Touch screen laptop computers are relatively new to the world of computing.  There are only a few models available at this time.  Due to their scarcity, we don’t currently have enough data to make any accurate decisions about whether or not touch screen computers will actually be a productive tool.

We know that factory workers who are sitting in front of a vertical control station and constantly raising their arms to push buttons all day are prone to repetitive strain injuries.

Measures have been taken to limit the range of movement that these operators need to make in order to reduce fatigue.  One must wonder if we are actually going backwards in the evolution of technology by introducing touch screen monitors to home computers.

As I sit here an write this article, I find myself frequently using my mouse to move the pointer to various positions on the screen.  While doing this, my hand is rested on the desk and only my wrist moves.  Resting my hand on the mouse has become comfortable. The amount of effort that it takes to manipulate the mouse is minimal.

I remember when people first started using the computer mouse as a computer input device.  I thought that it wouldn’t catch on because you need to move your hand from the keyboard to the mouse frequently.  I was certainly wrong about this prediction.  I wonder how I will feel about operating future touch screen laptop computers a few years from now.

I really wonder if the gorilla arm phenomenon will present a problem with future touch screen laptop computer users. Only time will tell but early indications are that people don’t have to move their arms enough to really cause this to be a problem.

Sources: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Touchscreen#Gorilla_arm


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