9 November 1999

The Death of Key Punch Operators?

by Kate Melville

Everyone hates traditional computer keyboards! One obvious reason is that traditional keyboards are laid out like a piano but are no where near as much fun to play. But according to ergonomists from Cornell University good keyboards might be laidout and played more like an accordion than a piano.

The Cornell research used a prototype vertical split keyboard that allow up to three times more typing movements in positions that present a low risk for users developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

The researchers analysed the wrist posture and typing performance of twelve, right-handed, touch-typists using a traditional keyboard and a vertical split keyboard.

Results showed while the typists did slightly worse in typing speed and accuracy using the vertical split keyboard with more practice their performance would have soon be on par that using a traditional keyboard.

While this is interesting science for people whose jobs require lots of key stroking (or who have carpal tunnel syndrome), it does seem a bit misdirected when most of these occupations are either becoming obsolete or can be done using voice recognition technology!