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The 'Book Mystique
‘Book Mystique Review -- HandshoeMouse Ergonomic Mouse With Laser Or High-Resolution BlueRay Tracking
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
by Charles W. Moore
There are many “ergonomic” pointing devices available, and I’ve tried a fair few of them over the years. All are pretty much designed to address the stress that small motor movements, such as keyboarding, mouse-clicking and cursor manipulation, put on muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves, and they all succeed to varying degrees.
For mousing with conventional computer mice, one has to grip the mouse with a certain amount of muscle pressure, and exert more pressure on the mouse button or buttons for clicking. The stress may seem small, but it builds up over long computer sessions, and the on-off motion of clicking involves nerve impulses combined with repeated muscle tensing and relaxing, which is irritating to soft tissues and nerves, at least to the extent I understand it as a layman, and have empirically experienced it.
Forceful gripping or pinching, next to hovering of the hand and fingers above mouse and buttons has been identified as a major cause for several physical complaints in neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Moreover, gripping and pinching may result in tension in the deep neck muscles. This may lead to a reduction of the space between first rib and clavicular bone which could even translate into pressure on nerves and a restricted blood flow in arms and hands.
Examples of complaints are:
* headaches radiating from the neck area
* tingling feeling in arms and hands
* reduced mobility of the head
* loss of force in the hands
* obstruction of blood flow
* numb feeling
Designed by a Dutch medical university and field tested for almost two years, Hippus HandshoeMouse Computer Mouse products from the Netherlands can, subject to their correct use, to minimize the torsional biomechanical load that can result from mousing with devices that have to be gripped, especially with the palm, the inner wrist and forearm twisted through a quarter turn away from the natural thumb-uppermost resting position of the hand and wrist. The rotation creates a strain through the arm and into the shoulder that can reduce blood flow and increase pressure on the Median nerve and other nerves of the mousing limb, which may in turn lead to pain and tingling sensations that can indicate the onset of trauma and if not corrected, lead to more permanent damage.
A team of medical and ergonomic specialists from Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands used electromyogram (EMG) measurements to show the muscle activity of hand and fingers when using a mouse. They found that relaxation in neck, shoulders, arms and hands can be realized by means of a reduction of force when handling a mouse.
The Hippus HandshoeMouse has now entered the North American market, targeting an estimated 25% of the total work force which may be suffering from RSI symptoms.
The HandshoeMouse is different from conventional computer mice in that there is no need to hold on to, or grip the mouse; your hand, thumb and fingers are supported in the optimal, relaxed position, and there is no friction between the skin of your hand and the desktop.
Three core ideas are key to the design of the HandshoeMouse: 1) by slanting the angle of the mouse downward from the thumb to reduce wrist pronation; 2) by elongating the incline of the mouse slightly from the wrist upward to reduce wrist extension; 3) and by allowing the hand to rest on the mouse in a neutral position to reduce gripping and pinch force, most injuries associated with mousing can be reduced or largely eliminated.
The Hippus HandshoeMouse grip-Less mouse allows you to move the pointer without any gripping stress on your hand or arm muscles, so your hand remains relaxed. The more natural, relaxed hand position supported by The HandShoe guides the user into having the forearm at the same height as the mouse. The mouse’s wrist rest channel maintains the arm/wrist/hand configuration within Biomechanically sound degrees of flex.
One places one’s hand into the HandshoeMouse’s hand well so that the mouse’s button mound meets and supports the forefinger and palm of the hand comfortably. The heel of the hand, the wrist, and the forearm rest in a contoured channel on the top of the mouse with a second rest surface for the thumb on the outside of the button mound. This orientation is comfortable and relaxed.
Speaking as one who battles chronic nerve pain issues in my arms and hands, while often it takes a few days to become accustomed to using a new pointing device, I was delighted to discover that these HandshoeMouse mice felt very comfortable right from the start.
Most mouse tracking movement is initiated from the elbow and shoulder rather than from the wrist or fingers. It takes some getting used to, and is not as precise as fine motor movements of the hand and wrist, but it is less stressful and more comfortable once you have become acclimatized.
With this mouse interface orientation, there is no longer any need to use the fingertips to press the mouse buttons, causing the fingers to “claw.” A small movement of the finger from the big joint where it meets the hand is sufficient to press the HandshoeMouse buttons, which have a pleasantly light action. The scroll wheel can be rolled with the inside of the middle or index finger.
HandshoeMouse mice are available in wireless or corded versions, the latter being what we tested. Particularly with a large pointing device like this which I doubt many users would pick to take along on the road (although it does come with a nice fleece drawstring carry-bag), I fail to see any advantage of a cordless mouse other than freeing up a USB port in the instance of Bluetooth units.
These HandShoe mice are among the largest I have ever used. Even the medium size models I tested cover a large percentage of a standard mouse pad, and will be most comfortably accommodated by an oversized mouse pad, such as the SteelSeries SteelPad 4D gaming mousepad I use.
However, it is amazingly light, and feels even lighter than it is because of its formidable size. The Canadian distributor (see address and contact info below) also notes that weight of the HandshoeMouse can be lessened slightly, if need be, by removing certain metal and plastic weights housed in the interior of the mouse. The weights located in the outer chamber in the underside are specifically there to allow the user to reduce the weight of the mouse, and that research by Hippus NV determined the pivot weights for the various sizes, although they do not actively promote this feature of the mouse. However, some users (of which this writer is one) prefer a lighter mouse, and it is very easy to just remove a few weights. The medium sized HandshoeMouse we tested weighs about 210 grams in standard weighted trim.
The larger glidepads on the BlueRay Track unit (probably at least 3x the total contact area of the standard HandShoeMouse’s pads as shown in the juxtaposition photo) make that mouse a significanlty smoother and lower-effort tracker.
The larger glidepads on the BlueRay Track unit (probably at least 3x the total contact area of the standard HandShoeMouse’s pads as shown in the juztaposition photo) make that mouse a significanlty smoother and lower-effort tracker.
The BlueRay Track sensor also provides a tangible improvement in pointing “feel” - and the blue laser is cool as well.
In any case, the HandshoeMouse is a low-effort mouse, gliding effortlessly on the mouse pad, and its buttons have a feather-light touch as well. I was less impressed with the scroll wheel (which also has a third click-button function), especially on the laser version. I’ve been spoiled by the wonderful scroll wheels on recent-model Logitech mice with their optional and silky-smooth weighted freewheeling in addition to the customary detent clicks. The detents on the BlueRay Track HandshoeMouse had a better feel, but that might just be a production variation. The buttons and scroll wheel are activated by the middle part of your index and big fingers, rather than the tips, which results in lower stress on the muscles and nerves.
In Europe, the brand name “Horse” (or in Dutch “Paard”) was initially used for these mice, which were developed with erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam and later transferred to the spin off of the university to Hippus NV, the logic being that the mouse acts like a saddle for the hand. Hippus’s Chief Technical Officer, Dr. Ing. Paul Helder, says this was to differentiate from the conventionally used word Mouse for a computer mouse, and also got a smile on people’s faces and started them talking about the mouse’s development which is exactly what Hippus wanted.
However, says Helder, “when we expanded to international markets, we had to do something about the name. The name HandshoeMouse with the subscript ‘fits like a glove,’ was tested in the US market and was generally accepted. In marketing terms it is a so called stop word. We all know that a glove is a glove and not a hand shoe. So, people start thinking.”
The BlueRay Track tracking sensor is the latest advancement in HandshoeMouse technology, using a BlueRay tracking engine instead of conventional laser. The new BlueRay Track HandshoeMouse was first demonstrated during the National Ergonomics Conference and Exposition (NECE) in Las Vegas, Nevada from November 17-20, 2009.
The new BlueRay Track HandshoeMouse will also be available in wired and wireless versions. The sample black BlueRay Track we tested was a pre-production demonstrator unit that Hippus kindly let me check out for several days. The red Laser version was a standard production unit. Both were medium sized models.
The BlueRay Track Engine is based on a double lens optical system in combination with a blue LED and a specific light frequency which supports a far higher definition of the underlying surface resulting in a higher accuracy and a broader range of surfaces on which you can work without having to use a mousepad. For instance your trouser leg will work as a tracking surface.
“This new cutting edge BlueRay Track technology will take the HandshoeMouse forward in a different league, where ergonomic and technological claims can be proven and supported by research and field reports,” says Dr. Helder. Certainly in testing the laser and BlueRay HandshoeMouse models back-to-back, the BlueRay unit has a definite precision edge, although the laser model is no slouch either.
I asked Dr. Helder if Blue Track eventually replace the laser version, but he doubts that Laser will be replaced by BlueRay and that both types of sensors will continue to be marketed. However all future production will entail the BlueRay technology for the HandshoeMouse, which Mr. Helder says is a superior technology which can easily compete with Laser for general use, CAD designers, Architects, general office work etc. The BlueRay Track models are also expected to be especially attractive to serious gamers, who require extremely high definition. For example, recently Philips Electronics introduced a 5000 dpi Laser, specifically for the gaming market.
The red standard laser HandshoeMouse I tested was made in the Netherlands, while the black Blue Track model was made in China, so I asked if Hippus is shifting production to China.
Dr. Helder explained that initially the company acquired electronics from China and assembled the mice in the Netherlands. Due to the complexity of the the shape of the body of the HandshoeMouse all molding was executed in the Netherlands. Then in a second phase of product development they shipped the body parts to China, assembled the electronics, packaged the mice and sent them back to the Netherlands again, a very cumbersome process.
Recently Hippus transferred their molding operation and thus the entire production, to their production partner in China, and the BlueRay based BlueRay Track model is the first to be produced completely in China.
Because the HandshoeMouse is designed to fit your hand like a glove, it must be able to accommodate different hand sizes and comes in both a left and right hand versions. Consequently there are six different models available, with hand sizes (left and right) corresponding to hands measured from the tip of the ring finger to the wrist crease in large (210 mm or 8.25”), medium (190 mm or 7.5”), and small sizes (170 mm or 6.75”). Left-hand sizes are manufactured on demand and cost up to four times the price of right-hand versions. Dr. Helder tells me that Hippus first made one mould, medium size. Then at a later stage, after some teething problems they made a mould for the small size, and finally, in response to requests from large people with large hands, they made the large size as well. When ordering a HandshoeMouse, it is recommended that you measure your hand (instructions are posted on the Hippus and reseller Websites) and order the appropriate size for your hands.
Dr. Helder also notes that in view of the type of work of CAD designers, whereby they use their middle finger or index finger to switch by means of pressing the scroll wheel, Hippus was were asked to include a third button on the large size HandshoeMouse. This button has the same function as this switch function of the scroll wheel. The result is it alleviates the load on the 2 fingers and includes the ring finger, thereby providing a less strenuous operating condition. Unfortunately, in the the small and medium sizes there is not room to fit this third button.
The HandshoeMouse is plug and play, and no special drivers for Mac or PC are needed, and low end Mac users will be happy to hear that OS 9 is supported. Controls consist of 2 buttons at an ergonomic position and a scroll wheel fitted with a switch mechanism, plus the third switch aforementioned on the large size model.
The HandshoeMouse is sophisticatedly engineered, well-constructed out of what appear to be high-quality materials, and succeeds at its design objective of creating a comfortable, low-stress pointing device. It isn’t cheap, but if it helps diminish hand, wrist, arm, or shoulder pain associated with computer use for you, it should prove well worth the price.
Large: 5.375” W x 7.25” D
Medium: 4.875” W x 6.625” D
Small: 4.5” W x 5.875” D
Large: 8.25” or 210 mm
Medium: 7.5” or 190 mm
Small: 6.75” or 170 mm
Weight (both wired and wireless)
Large: 250 g
Medium: 200 g
Small: 120 g
2 for small and medium
3 for large
USB 1.1 (compatible with USB 1.1 and USB 2.0)
Separate USB connection on the HandshoeMouse
Battery wireless version is charged with USB cable
Two buttons at ergonomic position plus scroll wheel
Scroll wheel Fitted with switch
optical 800 dpi (BlueRay Track under development projected for late December release)
Wireless Version Specs:
Poll rate (Hertz) of the electronics is 113~118Hz and up to 120Hz.
Wireless range of the receiver is 10 m
Receiver / dongle is fitted with a LED light which goes on and off when operating the mouse.
The wireless HandshoeMouse uses a lithium ion battery which can only be removed by professional service providers.
Battery life is around 2 years.
Operating time for the wireless version is around 4 weeks.
Charging of the wireless version takes around 3 hours.
Charging takes place by means of USB cable; The PC or laptop needs to be switched on during charging.
One can continue working while charging the battery; the micro receiver/dongle must be in place.
Operating systems supported:
Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X
Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, XP or Vista
Current U.S. Pricing: $125.96 (corded) $152.99 (cordless).
In Canada, the Hippus HandshoeMouse (Laser) currently sells for CDN $115.00 (corded) and CDN $135.00 (cordless).
For more information, visit:
Get a free download of the research presentation of Erasmus University by clicking on the link below:
HandshoeMouse is available in the U.S. from:
Ergo Works, Inc.
420 Olive Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Tel: +1 650-322-9775
Fax: +1 650-322-9770
Micwil Group of Companies
Ergonomics Portal: ErgoCanada.com
102 Wheeler Street
Saskatoon, SK S7P 0A9
Tel: (306) 382-5995,
Fax: (306) 382-4995
Toll Free: (866) 335-3746 (ERGO)
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