Student Research: Seong Hyun Hwang
, Industrial Hygiene (IH), 2008
Race, Gender and Finger Anthropometry: Implications for Computer Input Device Design
Several research studies have demonstrated that there appears to be an association between intensive computer input device use and upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders. However the evidence for possible stature related health effects is limited. Computer input devices represent a class of tolls where a "one size fits all" paradigm has predominantly been applied. The aims of the study were to: 1) objectively measure and characterize critical components of hand and finger anthropometry, 2) determine how adult had anthropometry varies between genders and across Eastern and Western populations, and 3) systematically examine the gender and race based differences in hand anthropometry and how key anthropometric difference may influence computer input device design.
In this project, the hand and finger anthropometry was measured from 28 healthy adult subjects. Fourteen subjects were male and fourteen subjects were female wth one-half of the subjects in each group comprising Western and Eastern populations. Data collected on finger anthropometry enabled the development of a method, using proximal finger breadth and finger length, to accurately estimate finger mass, with 99.5% accuracy. In addition, passive finger resting forces applied to mice and keyboards were measured. The results revealed that there were differences between genders and races, with all passive finger forces below 0.6 N, an activation force common in many of the commercially manufactured computer input devices. Finally, a world review of anthropometry by race and gender indicated that finger lengths were normally distributed whereas finger mass had three distinct peaks/populations.
The findings of this study indicate that the current "one size fits all" paradigm used to design computer input devices may not be optimal. Smaller computer input devices with lower activation forces, and smaller key widths, and smaller footprints may benefit a large percentage of the world's population. Future work should be conducted to determine whether subjects of different statures prefer computer input devices with statures specific designs and whether these stature specific designs favorably reduce physical exposures.