Ergonomics of Interaction: The Fatigue Oversight

A few weeks ago, I was stranded on an island for a week with my iPad Pro as my main device. As I layed on the Punta Cana beach writing my latest post: The Surprising Science Behind Snapchat’s Success on my iPad Pro cover keyboard, I was soberly reminded that no matter how great Apple commercials make out the iPad to be, it’s no replacement for a laptop when it comes to getting shit done for a single reason: arm fatigue.

The Scalability Fallacy

Touch screens work well for phones as they only require you to move your finger an inch or two at a time. And since tablets are pretty much big ass phones, you’d figure the same would hold true- but the scalability fallacy suggests otherwise; just because a system functions well at a given scale, doesn’t mean it will function equally well at a different one. When it comes to writing on the iPad, the energy required to move the “cursor” is significantly more then sliding your finger on a trackpad, as it means raising your entire arm, tapping a precise location on the screen which you’re likely to miss on the first 3 tries. This is the exact reason why keyboards, mice and trackpads are not going anywhere any time soon: high precision + low energy consumption.

Fatigue Oversight and the Gestural Bias

Hollywood blockbusters such as Minority Report, Iron man, and many others have shaped the public’s perception when it comes to interacting with computers. Characters effortlessly waving their hands in the air through holograms make for exciting movie scenes, but poor interactions. In reality, gestural interface devices like the Leap Motion and Myo armband have been gravely disappointing as your arms fall off after 2 minutes of use due to high energy expenditure. I reckon this might even hold true for virtual and augmented reality. Many cite stationary experiences as a disadvantage, but I actually speculate it’s much better for content creation as it requires less energy from the user.

Examining Sci-Fi Interfaces

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