January 25, 2012
Users of tablet computers should place their device on the table and tilt its screen, rather than have it flat on their lap, to avoid potentially painful hunching of the neck, a study suggested Wednesday.
“Tablet users may be at high risk to develop neck discomfort based on current behaviours and tablet designs,” it warned.
A team led by environmental health researcher Jack Dennerlein of the Harvard School of Public Health asked seven men and eight women who were experienced tablet users to carry out tasks on an iPad2 and a Motorola Xoom.
Using a motion-analysis system, the team filmed the 15 volunteers as they worked on the tablet in four common configurations.
In the first position the tablet was not placed in its proprietary case but held on the lap in one hand while the other was used to touch the screen.
In the second the tablet was placed on the lap, but stayed in its case. The user worked with both hands on the screen.
In the third, the tablet was set up in its case on a table, with its screen set at a lower angle, and the user worked with both hands.
The last configuration, dubbed “table-movie,” entailed placing the tablet on the table in its case, tilted at a higher angle. The user did not work on the screen and instead watched movies or other programming on it.
The experiments showed the angle of the head and neck varied hugely across the four configurations and between the iPad and the Xoom.