In 2017, nearly 40% of workers reported repetitive strain injury (RSI) symptoms, such as pain in arm, wrist, or hand (Nationale Enquête Arbeidsomstandigheden, 2017). Currently, the consensus among researchers and therapists seems to be that the way to alleviate or treat RSI symptoms is to use a better-shaped computer mouse. These mice are sold as ‘ergonomic’ or ‘vertical’ mice and promise to at least reduce, if not prevent, RSI symptoms. Physical therapists also indicate that frequent posture changes are very effective in preventing or treating RSI. Current ergonomic mice, however, are static: they keep the user's hand in the same position all day long, which is a major contributor to the development of RSI symptoms.
Our concept is a shape-changing computer mouse that continually and subtly changes shape throughout the day. Basically, we eliminate the static aspect of current ergonomic mice to more effectively reduce and/or prevent RSI symptoms. We have completed multiple design iterations to lift our current prototype to the next level. The TU/e has recently filed a provisional patent of our work to help Mouscle become a reality. Our design's main contribution is to the field of shape-shifting interfaces by introducing an interface that can improve the mouse user’s health. We also contribute to the field of worker productivity as, unlike a productivity app, our shape-shifting mouse cannot be ignored; its hand movements are followed unconsciously while the user is using the mouse to perform tasks.
Our mission is to take the R out of RSI. We firmly believe that it is time to rethink the way in which we currently interact with interfaces. Especially the interfaces that we use all day long, such as mice and keyboards, are harmful to their user's health as our bodies are not made to stay in the same position all day long. We believe it is time to move into the next stage of Human Computer Interaction where interfaces change shape continually and subtly to provide unobtrusive health benefits to their users.