Ergonomics and mobile devices

There has been a ton of articles recently on the demise of the personal computer. Sales have plateaued or even declined over the past year:

I get it. People are adopting much more portable devices for personal, educational and business use, and desktops may be shared devices in future workplaces. Some do not need the full functionality of a desktop, and smartphones and tablets work perfectly fine for them. And developing economies may skip the personal computing route entirely in favour of mobile technology, even though there are connectivity constraints.

For me, my desktop is where I get the majority of my work done, less for the technology but more for the ergonomics. I find it puzzling that, with the time and money spent on ergonomic assessments, all that knowledge is instantly forgotten as soon as people adopt tablets and smartphones. And there are repetitive motion injuries from these devices from improper or excessive use:

Granted, my nifty new Samsung phone has the best voice recognition going, so I do a lot of quick emails and tweets to get around excessive typing on a non-ergo device. But having an oversized screen at eye level, an ergonomic mouse and split keyboard is just so much more comfortable that trying to get any serious work done on my iPad or Note.

I can easily see a shifting in the marketplace, so that certain activities are done on devices that are more suitable for that specific activity. But for the reports and heavy-duty writing that I do, I need my desktop (a laptop, one with a docking station, would be okay, though I would rarely un-dock it). I am concerned about the trend towards iPad use in the elementary classroom, not from the instructional perspective but from the ergonomic … especially if they are getting rid of desktops and not providing appropriate ergonomic accessories for the kids.

Am I going to hang onto my desktop? You betcha. Will I probably have to get ergonomic accessories for my iPad and smartphone? Maybe, but only if I start spending a ton of time on them.

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