Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

Under Your Thumb

A new kind of computer pointing device that spares the wrists could avert carpal tunnel syndrome

Like so many people who use computers all day, Abir Qamhiyah and her colleagues in Iowa State University’s Mechanical Engineering Department found that the mouse-intensive software they used was giving them numb hands and painful wrists-the signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. But rather than submit to the traditional solutions-wrist splints, painkillers, or even surgery-Qamhiyah decided to develop a new kind of pointing device, one that would leave the wrists out of the equation. The result: a kind of joystick without a base, with a pressure plate at the thumb end that can be used to move an on-screen cursor in any direction. Says Qamhiyah, “We looked at how much force a thumb is capable of exerting, and we specified the sensitivity range to be on the very low end”-meaning the new pointer shouldn’t cause its own ergonomic nightmares. Two buttons on the side take care of left-clicking and right-clicking. Iowa State is looking for corporate licensees to bring the device to market.

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.