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Input Devices Hardware

ErgoSlider Offers a New Mouse Alternative 118

Zothecula writes "First achieving widespread use with the release of the Apple Macintosh in 1984, the humble computer mouse has reigned supreme as the digital pointing device of choice for more than 20 years. During this time it has seen off countless pretenders to the throne, as well as undergoing some useful (and otherwise) redesigns such as Apple's Magic Mouse, Microsoft's Arc, the 3D-Spheric-Mouse, the AirMouse and the Orbita. The latest product to take a shot at the title is the Ergo-Slider Plus+, a device that looks like a padded wrist rest, but with a cylinder at the front that rolls and slides in a special groove to move the onscreen cursor." It reminds me of the Isopoint pointing device in the long-passed Apple-compatible Outbound Laptop.
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ErgoSlider Offers a New Mouse Alternative

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  • by Picardo85 ( 1408929 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:29AM (#34846450)
    i've seen something that looks exactly like that in offices across the country for many years ...
    • It's old alright, we have a bunch of similar devices where I work.

      • What happens when you push the cursor to the left-most left and it still won't go more left? Unlike a mouse or ball this device has an end stop.
        • that's a very good question! the device is designed so that you never have to move the "roll" more than a centimeter or two to get across the screen. So if you face yourself with having it at one end of the device you can move it to the middle, or the other end if you feel like it. This will "reset" it. It's actually a rather well thought through device.
          • so, you are saying this isn't meant for gaming where there really is no "edge of the screen" when moving your avatar around.

            • by fbjon ( 692006 )
              The similar RollerMouse (a fairly old product line by now) has buttons at either end of the bar's movement slot that move the cursor at some set speed. If you hit the end, the button is pressed and the mouse cursor keeps moving. Also, pushing the bar down is the same as a left click, very nifty.
          • Really? On the Outbound's, it had a spring action/switch at each end so when you get to one side or the other, if you keep pressing against the spring, the cursor keeps moving left or right. It stops when you stop pressing against the spring.

          • So instead of lifting the mouse that you are holding in your hand -- while still being able to hold the mouse buttons down -- you have to pick the baton up out of the trough it's in, move it to the right, and drop it back into the trough. Having released any of the four buttons you had been pressing to do so, unless you were to use your other hand, defeating the purpose of having a pointing device you can use with one hand while your other hand was pressing keys on the keyboard.

            Not to mention that, as it's

        • It may be set up with proportional positioning; the horizontal location of the roller bar might be proportional to the horizontal location of the mouse pointer. Moving the bar all the way to the left brings the mouse pointer all the way to the left side of the screen. Moving the bar all the way to the right brings the mouse pointer to the right side of the screen.
        • It goes *ding* and moves to the right.

    • Re:isn't this old? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:44AM (#34846542)

      Ah, no. That thing is an "ErgoSlider", or possibly an "ErgoSlider Plus".

      As you can tell from the name, the "ErgoSlider Plus+" is something completely different and totally new.

      Anyway, on a more serious note, I have read several reviews complaining about the ErgoSlider causing cramps and pains. There's no easy way to carry out the rotating motion, for one thing. For another, wrist rests are bad for your wrists. Wrist rests should only be used while resting because you are supposed to keep your wrist straight and neutral while carrying out fine hand movements. The ErgoSlider has you dropping your wrist habitually, and it leads to increased movement of the wrist during operation, leading to strain on the tendons and nerves, particularly within the carpal tunnel.


      • Re:isn't this old? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:45AM (#34846548)

        Oh, and if anyone wants to trust the reviewer's knowledge of ergonomics over mine, notice that in the photo he is using a laptop on a riser without an external keyboard. That's a massive, massive ergonomics no-no.


        • by arekq ( 651007 )

          Totally agree with you.
          Well, at least they didn't claim that this is a mouse killer. :)

        • by Simon80 ( 874052 )
          To be fair, in the second picture, he has a keyboard off to the side that he may have temporarily replace with the gadget he was reviewing.
      • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @08:02AM (#34846652)

        As you can tell from the name, the "ErgoSlider Plus+" is something completely different and totally new.

        Think I'll wait until the ErgoSlider Plus# is released.

      • This device makes zero sense if it is not built into a keyboard. And then it becomes a keyboard which you have to repair instead of binning it and spending another five or six bucks on a new Keytronics, Mitsumi, or other minimally acceptable brand. (Or as I do, pull another USB hub media keyboard that you got at the flea market off the stack and rejoice in spending no more than five bucks on a keyboard with fancy features.)

      • Incorrect summary?

        "First achieving widespread use with the release of the Apple Macintosh in 1984"

        The Mac was neither the first mouse-based computer, nor did it "widespread" the concept. - Mac sold around 100,000 units its first five years (mainly because it cost approximately ten times more than other computers), which was much much less than other computers.

        Example: WorldWideWeb may have been first browser but it was Mosaic that popularized the web & made it explode for ordinary people. Likewise I would give credit for widespread mouse usage to the C64, the most popular comp

    • Like this....

      http://ergo.contourdesign.com/products/rollermouse/default.aspx [contourdesign.com]

      (Not affiliated, but this article really is non-news to me)

    • Probably the MouseTrapper [mousetrapper.com], first made in 1984(!).
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      yeah, but gizmag lamers are not old enough to have been to real banks, post offices, tax office or anywhere. and actually it's not a real article even at that, just a short blurb. AND THERE'S A FRIGGIN SUBSCRIBE TO US time delayed pop-over

      not only that, but the product is named plus+. meaning it's already gotten a "plus" AND a plus sign!

    • by meza ( 414214 )

      Yeah I remember my friends dad using something similar for their Windows 3.11 computer. So that should have been mid 90s.

    • Curious, are you somewhere in Europe or in the US? I've never seen these in the US before, but in Finland, they seem quite common. Just wondering if they've been over here for years and are a new thing to the US?
    • Yep. There was a very old man with one of these (or something nearly identical) where I work, who had it since before I started (4 years ago). And it must be much older than that because old people generally don't like learning new things, especially right before they retire.

  • by hairyfish ( 1653411 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:34AM (#34846476)
    The accuracy, efficiency, and robustness of the optical mouse is already the perfect HID. Why do people persist with the folly of trying to improve on this perfection?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nialin ( 570647 )
      Perfect for what, RSS? The mouse needs to become ergonomic enough to help prevent injury. Change ain't bad.
    • by _merlin ( 160982 )

      Haha - don't you remember when the mechanical mouse was also "perfect" and the optical mouse was an unreliable gimmick that needed a mousepad with a funny pattern? Or before that, when you'd have to be a wimp to use a mouse at all? Any mouse gives me sore ring and little fingers, and a sore wrist. Give me a pen tablet any day!

      • What is this pen tablet you speak of? vi doesn't need this, what could be more intuitive than 'k' to move up, 'j' to move down, 'h' to move left and 'l' to move right. All children and new computer users understand this without tuition and it is guaranteed RSI free! Easiest way of working in a document!

        • vi doesn't need this, what could be more intuitive than 'k' to move up, 'j' to move down, 'h' to move left and 'l' to move right. All children and new computer users understand this without tuition and it is guaranteed RSI free! Easiest way of working in a document!

          Ok, so vi isn't intuitive, but once you learn it you'll work far less hard to get real work done than you would doing the same tasks with gedit, kate, or notepad. If you spend more than half your waking life in a text editor, "intuitive" becomes

      • I'm completely spoiled by custom keybindings via xbindkeys and this device [newegg.com]. The format is nearly perfection for me, the wireless tracking is excellent, and the keyboard itself is pretty good, too. Can't imagine ever going back to using separate keyboard and pointer devices.
    • Agreed. The post-Mice era will either be touch screen (iPhone) or gesture-based (Kinect), if not mind control. The device appears to inherit the main short-coming of the mouse as a pointing device. It is an indirect approximation of the movement of one's finger. You move the device blindly while looking at a triangle-like thing moving at the screen, far from obvious to new users, whose real world experience would involve manipulating an object while looking directly at it. The Slider looks more like a niche
      • Touchscreens are great for devices that are either sitting in your lap, or you're only using for short bursts, or both. Having trialled touchscreens in an office settings, I can say that they are not comfortable.
      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        Nothing quite like holding up your arms towards the screen all day. Not to mention constantly having your sight obscured by all that flesh hanging in front of it and greasing up the screen.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I don't think Slashdot is interested in descriptions of your masturbation experiences...

          • I don't think Slashdot is interested in descriptions of your masturbation experiences...

            Speak for yourself!

            GP, please continue.

      • by Peeteriz ( 821290 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @08:43AM (#34846840)

        Both touch and gesture are extremely faulty from ergonomics/RSI viewpoint - they will not be and can not be 'the future', simply as the hands of homo sapiens simply won't tolerate handling touchscreens or gesturing 8 hours a day, 5 days a week - they'll get too tired much, much sooner; and if you *need* to use them still while tired, greet RSI and damage to your hands.

        Mouse+keyboard causes problems for some people in excessive use and can often be fixed with proper positioning. Full-day use of touchscreens and gestures will cause problems for everyone.

        Really, even a full day of having your hands touching but not resting on a touchscreen would be physically impossible. A full day of having your arms raised in whatever gesture would be physically impossible.

        Touch/gesture interfaces are suitable for occasional use, but not for replacing your main workday interface. Sorry, but you'll have to find something else that involves a rested position of your main muscles.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I use touch+gestures eight hours a day, and it's much better than mouse+keyboard.


        • Sorry, but you'll have to find something else...

          My favorite is Eye Tracking [wikipedia.org]. Unfortunately, the device [wikipedia.org] makes the wearer look like Hannibal Lechter.

          • Eye trackers are getting a lot better. I've always wondered about the feasibility of using a couple of IR cameras on the top corners of the monitor to track gaze direction. Seems like it would be workable, even if it is only practical in certain environments.

      • by Rary ( 566291 )

        Touch is too limited. I'm not reaching across my desk to tap on my monitor all day long, nor am I going to sacrifice my neck to stare down at a device that sits in my lap all day. Ergonomics demands that my hands and my eyes be in different places.

        Touch is perfect for small handheld devices (smartphones, audio devices) and quick-use machines (ATMs). For long term use, I need to rest my hands on my desk and look straight ahead at my monitor. This means either a keyboard and mouse or some evolution of that co

      • by Lucidus ( 681639 )
        I strongly disagree. Most users do not watch the cursor moving around on the screen, but rather concentrate on a region of interest as the cursor moves into the desired position. I would contend that the ability to move the cursor predictably, without focusing directly on either the mouse or the cursor itself, offers major advantages.
    • I've actually found the tablet+pen combo to be more precise and efficient for everyday GUI work with xterms or other terminal emulators (not for games though). Of course, it takes a little while to get used to and you need a good tablet, if you buy the cheapest used Trust tablet you can find you'll probably end up frustrated by it.

      That said, I'm still waiting for a direct mind-machine interface with the visual output hooked up directly to either the optic nerve or the optic centre in the brain. Hopefully by

      • by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @08:51AM (#34846876) Homepage Journal

        Easy to use graphics tablets have been around since as early as 1969 [acm.org]. The only reason mice are the standard is that they are cheap.

        • by lwsimon ( 724555 )

          And because they aren't as efficient. I have an older Wacom Intuos that I paid big bucks for, and I hate using it as a mouse for long periods - I have to move my hand over a foot to go from corner to corner on the screen! If it were any smaller, I'd have trouble with small details.

          I *have* used a trackball for many things, including FPS gaming, and it was okay. I'm big to a Microsoft Arc these days, though, because it allows me to slightly curl my two smallest fingers under when my wrist begins to tire,

          • If you want to just use it to do user interface operations, you need to set the scale down like a mouse. Typical screen:mouse motion is like 5:1, where a tablet by default is supposed to be more like 1:1 for doing fine graphics.

            I hate trying to draw with a mouse. You need to zoom in so much that you are only seeing a tiny section of your work.

            Good idea on changing hand positions.

    • No. Any one pointer device can cause RSI (except probably a brain interface). Ergonomic ones delay the process, but the problem will re-emerge. Use two or more different ones. MS and Linux have no problem with a mouse, a trackball and a tablet connected. In the near future screens may come with an embedded touch interface. Use them all, switch often. The switching between them provides with an alternation of the muscles tortured, and thus with another delay. If this combined delay supersedes the time requir
      • by Ignacio ( 1465 )

        Even a brain interface can cause RSI. It just causes it in the brain instead of in the wrists.

      • MS and Linux have no problem with a mouse, a trackball and a tablet connected.

        If by MS you mean windows, it sure does; if you change the gain ratio (and, IIRC, the acceleration) it applies to all rodentoidifical devices.

        If you think about it, that's an absolutely retarded choice.

    • Because it ain't perfect.

      I have a small cache of Logitech Trackballs (of a couple of different models) which I think are WAY better input devices. All the functions of a mouse, but the hand rests in a single location so I use less desk space and don't have to wobble all over the place to use it.

      Once you go track(ball) you'll never go back.

      I don't userstand why they aren't more popular.


      • Crackers be fearing of the track, is all.

        No, really, track is where it's at, baby. Go and try and find a discontinued Microsoft Trackball Explorer anywhere. If you can get one for less than $200, buy it - they're only increasing in value. A Logitech wireless trackball is the next best thing, but nothing - nothing compares to one of those Microsoft trackballs. It's like stroking a purring kitten, while Alyson Hannigan nuzzles your neck and Felicia Day nibbles on your earlobe.

    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      The accuracy, efficiency, and robustness of the IBM Trackpoint is already the perfect HID. Why do people persist with the folly of trying to improve on this perfection?
  • WAY old! (Score:5, Informative)

    by FlyveHest ( 105693 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:34AM (#34846480)

    More than 10 years ago I had a coworker that suffered from RSS from mouse-use, and she got a piece of hardware that is more or less the spitting image of this device.

    Slashvertisement, anyone?

    • by stjobe ( 78285 )

      Yeah, same here. 1996-1997 something. Exact same principle. It's nothing "new" about this thing, they've been around for at least 15 years.

      • by Gubbe ( 705219 )

        Just a hunch, but might they have been around 17 years [wikipedia.org]?

        Rollermouse has been the only product of this type that I have come across so far. This is the first time I've heard of an "ErgoSlider." Perhaps Rollermouse's patent expired and the clones are starting to roll in.

        • by stjobe ( 78285 )

          Someone else posted with a link to the actual device my then co-worker used, the MouseTrapper [mousetrapper.com]. According to that poster, it was first made in 1984, so 27 years in fact.

    • More than 10 years ago I had a coworker that suffered from RSS from mouse-use, and she got a piece of hardware that is more or less the spitting image of this device.

      Slashvertisement, anyone?

      Well, duh, XML-based formats are bad for you.

  • by loufoque ( 1400831 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:35AM (#34846488)

    But not as good.

  • Is there a video on how this device is used? the manufacturer's site doesn't have any. We can't really say if it works without seeing it in action.

  • At the moment I saw the picture I knew this wouldn't work, that's it... NEXT!

  • As many have previously said, this is hardly anything new.
    For the last 10 years we've been using products like the Mousetrapper at work.
    http://www.mousetrapper.com/ [mousetrapper.com]

  • Can I invest in your company?

    Buahahaha... just kidding... that thing is just all sorts of fail. And if you're going to pimp your product with a fake slashdot article, you think next time you could use pictures of one that wasn't already 5 years old and covered in grime?
  • This seem like a copy-paste of the product RollerMouse [contourdesign.com] from Contour Design which have a lot of users at my company. We even have Autocad-people using this. Seem to me that it actually works, as they have less problems with shoulder-pains etc.

    • You know, I can see this as potentially useful for cad, but I can't get away from the fact the it seems to get in the way of the keyboard. So often you need to do vertical or horizontal only movements, so that might be an advantage.

      Maybe one of these with a chording keyboard under the other hand, or a customized pad like an N52? (Real CAD operators use keyboards - it's much faster than the mouse; you could say the same for photo editing and painting as well, I suspect)

      How does this thing do with cheetos int

  • The picture shows a nipple, a touch pad, a mouse and a ErgoSlider Plus.. all on one computer. Are the other 3 pointed devices used to cover inadequacies of the ErgoSlider?
    • by Tacvek ( 948259 )

      That's nowhere near enough. Where is the Wiimote, Trackball, joystick, Digitizer pad (e.g. Wacom pad), touch screen, gamepad, light pen, and neural interface?

      Seriously though, for avoiding RSI, having a variety of pointer devices available is not a bad idea. Not to mention that each pointer device has some benefits versus the others for certain applications.

  • Not much different from Mousetrapper [mousetrapper.com] it seems.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Anyone ever seen a hand held 'thumb mouse'?

        I've been looking for years for a gamer style joystick with an IBM 'eraser-point' type controller mounted on the end of a cylinder that has an up/down clicker function.

        A device like this could be adjusted for rate of gain on the x/y axes performing click/drag operations with no wrist or arm movements allowing the arms to be at rest, not even on the desk.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    A dildo
  • It just looks weird and bit awkward to use. Maybe I'm just stuck in my own little rut but I think I'll stick with my big fat Kensington trackball.

    • Exactly. I've been a long time user of trackballs. The article specifically says "the device is clinically proven to reduce muscle strain by letting users move the onscreen pointer without overusing their wrists". Which is basically what I realized a long time ago with trackballs. They let you control the pointer with very good accuracy, while allowing you to leave your wrist in, and entire arm, in a single position. Only your fingers (or thumb depending on the trackball) have to move, and you leave the
  • These are not new. There are 2 or 3 people in my cube farm who have a device just like that, just uglier. There's a few variations, including one that is an integral part of the keyboard. At this office, anyone who requests it can get an ergonomic analysis of their cube and this is one of the options they recommend for certain people.

  • I don't use any input device. I control a complex set of metaphorical gestures
  • No one seems to be commenting on how much desk real estate this thing is taking up! Where it is positioned in the pictures would seem to make typing a real pain! It's wider than my present mouse pad, and it is positioned dead center!

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes