South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday July 7, 2020

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October 2010 - Volume 7 - Issue 4


ErgoMotion Keyboard and Mouse 'Like An Inventor's Dream'

About 5-1/2 years ago, while perusing a Best Buy store, Jack Atzmon had what he calls an "ah-ha moment." That moment resulted in a new technology that can help to reduce injuries caused by the repetitive motion of hands using a computer keyboard and mouse.

As he explains, while looking around the store, "It struck me as funny that a condition like repetitive stress injury that doctors, therapists, everybody knows is a condition caused by repetition—the keyboard never addressed repetition itself. I thought, how could a keyboard in any way affect repetitive stress injury if it doesn't affect the repetition? It's almost like putting stop signs around your city but the cars don't have brakes."
So Atzmon set out to do something about it. "I thought there must be a keyboard like this, one that addresses the biomechanics of movement, but nothing was out there." He took his suggestion to the Hospital of Special Surgery, whose mission statement is to "improve mobility and the quality of life for all." Atzmon said with a laugh, "I was a chiropractor at the time, so I went into the hospital and I'm thinking, 'They're not going to like me.' Not only do they like me, but we had a great relationship from day one."
He said the hospital was definitely interested in his new concept and wanted to see if it could match its expertise with some new technology. However, research on prior efforts revealed that nothing like this had been done before, so the design teams had to start from scratch. Atzmon commented, "They said, 'We'll have to figure this out piece by piece, how to make special mock-ups so we can learn how to best make the keyboard move.' The keyboard was actually born in the hospital."
The ErgoMotion Keyboard features a patented motion system that studies your typing habits and subtly changes your hand and wrist position while you work. The movement is enough to keep the blood circulating in your hands, thereby potentially leading to lower blood pressure. It moves in very small increments—enough to create the blood pressure change, according to Atzmon, but not enough that it disrupts your typing. "It moves up and down—maybe half-an-inch total, but a fraction of an inch each time—so it doesn't break the vision plane. So it's very easy to get used to. It's been tested for months and people love it."
Along with the keyboard, the designers came up with the ErgoMotion Mouse that features a patented pivot base that allows the mouse to move with your natural hand and wrist positions, adapting to your movements while you work. Atzmon said, "We were going to put the same motor technology (as what's in the keyboard) into the mouse, but it was very expensive to engineer a motor in a mouse. We didn't have the money, so my designer said just go ahead with the mouse with no motor, and see if people were interested. So I brought this mouse in and showed (a test group) how to use it, and everybody who saw this mouse said, 'Oh my gosh, can we have this mouse without the motor?'"
He mused, "It's unbelievable that when you try to go back to using the rigid mouse, it's the first time you understand how chained down your arm is to one position. You never want to go back to a rigid mouse, because you realize how uncomfortable it really is."
As the product was beginning to take shape, Atzmon contacted his brother-in-law, a patent attorney, who dismissed the idea at first, saying that nothing would be available in the area of intellectual property for a keyboard. "But he called me back three hours later," Atzmon recalled, "and said, 'Jack, you're not going to believe this. It's not only open, it's wide open. No one ever even looked at this space. It's like an inventor's dream.'"
Atzmon said companies from California to Switzerland are now courting him, and all this because of a stroll through Best Buy. "Can you imagine?" he asked, amazed. "People are saying now that it's very important to have movement at the desktop. The best thing to do is change your position from time to time, and that's what our keyboard and mouse essentially do. It's shocking—an elemental concept that had been completely ignored for about 30 years." But not any more.

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