Split Keyboards vs. Compact Keyboards
Week 2: Split Keyboard vs. Conventional Keyboard
The evolution of a computer keyboard is very interesting. The keyboard started its journey as a type writer with its keys in alphabetical order. This didn’t last long as the keys would get caught in one another if the person typing was too fast. Cue the rise of the key formation we have today, also known as QWERTY! This structure allowed for commonly used keys to be further apart which in turn increased type-writing speed and minimized the jamming of the type writer. This formation was kept for computer keyboards since the change from the type writers was extremely quick and people did not want to learn how to type again.
Keyboards are now used for a greater part of an 8-hour day in the office, 5 days a week. The latter is the reason why we, as Ergonomics specialists, are interested in this typing apparatus. Anything that is used for a prolonged period of time exposes the body to potential musculoskeletal problems. The keyboard has the possibility to affect the upper body from the back to the tip of the fingers. Alternatives to the conventional keyboards have been invented to minimize risk.
Today we examine the split keyboard, an alternative to a conventional keyboard to see if it is worth investing in or if you are better off with your regular keyboard.
A split keyboard has the same key configuration as a conventional keyboard except it is separated in half with the halves slanted away from each other. So what is all the fuss about this type of keyboard?
- It is familiar, and there likely isn't much of a learning curve to using a standard issue keyboard.
- Doesn't allow for variety in a each individuals wing span.
- A traditional keyboard has you typing in a pronated position which is putting more stress on your wrist.
- Split keyboards like the kinesis keyboard offer the option to arrange the keyboard in the way that best suits the user .
- If you are a broader person you can have the keyboard halves further away from one another in order to prevent your shoulder from caving in to type.
- Having the halves slanted away from one another brings your wrists in a more neutral position.
- Having a neutral wrist posture in theory helps reduce the risks of MSD such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tenosynovitis.
- Once acquainted with the type of keyboard the typing speed and accuracy are the same as the conventional keyboard .
- Although only 10 minutes there is a physical learning period that comes with using the Split Keyboard. Note this research was done on professional typists. There may be more of a learning curve for the general population.
- In theory all the stars align for this alternate keyboard. But in reality we still need more real world research done on it to get more statistics on discomfort reduction.
The debate is on! Feel free to share your thoughts on who you think is the winner in the comments section below.