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Question about egonomics of the smartNav

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 9:26 pm
by gtadam
Hello, i just want to ask a few questions before i actually buy a smartNav device.

Do smartnav cause repetitive strain injuuries in the neck area? Have third-partys reviewed this statement if true?

Adam Eriksson

Re: Question about egonomics of the smartNav

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 3:52 am
by kevin
Hi Adam,

I would suggest head pointing devices for anyone who needs a truly hands free way to access a computer. This includes people who are looking for a supplement or replacement for keyboard and mouse devices that require upper body mobility. Head tracking devices can help with many different levels of impairment from quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, and ALS to repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. If a user has little or no control of their hands/limbs or cannot use their hands or arms without experiencing pain then a head pointing device should be considered.

Head tracking technology has been around for nearly 20 years and has been a reliable method of computer access for thousands of people who use the computer for anywhere from minutes to over 8 hours a day.

I can appreciate your comments about the potential for neck strain and have heard this concern from new users. However once they get the device and begin using it they are very satisfied. Your neck has some very powerful muscles that provide the different movements needed and using a head pointer uses only a fraction of their potential. We have had concerned users consult their physical therapists about their head pointer and the therapist reviewed what was being done and had no exceptions. As with everything, working out the muscles involved helps, and there are neck exercises that can be done if a user is interested. If anyone would like to read our user feedback please read through these forums and read first hand how people get on with the device. It is important to note that our SmartNAV device takes the natural movements of your head that already occur subconsciously when you look at different parts of the screen and translates that motion into cursor movement. It is not required to move any �more� than most people move naturally.

There have been some studies done about head tracking technology. The study was published by Maui Interactive who manufactures the Cymouse and Miracle Mouse.

Here is the link:
Head Tracking Study

Please feel free to post if you have any follow up questions or concerns.


Re: Question about egonomics of the smartNav

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 4:49 am
by gtadam
"We have had concerned users consult their physical therapists about their head pointer and the therapist reviewed what was being done and had no exceptions"

im not quite sure i understood that sentence, they review the headpointing device and had no complaints?

As you said before it is natual headmovements, and i think it would occor lots of strain injuries if the neck wasnt capabale of handling those basic tasks of turning the head, even when not using the device. But im not quite sure i understand how you can get repetitive strain injuries in your arm/wrist when you move from keyboard to mouse, and not when you look around with your neck. Is there not any natural protection against this sort of thing?

have you recieved any complaints about strain during these years you have sold the product?

adam eriksson

Re: Question about egonomics of the smartNav

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:59 am
by kevin
Physical therapists have reviewed the head/neck motions being performed when using the SmartNAV Hands Free Mouse and had no exceptions to what was being done. There is also a thread on our forums that deals with a user who had some neck pain and worked through it and is now very satisfied. Please check out this link: ... 4;t=000084

The SmartNAV uses head movements you are already performing. The natural movements of looking at various parts of a computer screen are not substantively different than the movements you make when doing anything while conscious. Walking, reading, sitting, watching TV, etc. all require small movements of the head and using the muscles to 'hold up' your head. Our experience with thousands of NaturalPoint users is that there is no more strain or fatigue generated using our device than with any other daily living activity.

The repetitive strain injuries incurred in the arm/wrist when using a standard mouse can be caused by many different things. We try to explain how some of those things occur in our RSI Tutorial online here: ... i-faq.html

Also we have a Carpal Tunnel FAQ here: ... s-faq.html

The pages also link to some valuable resources and books worth checking out.

We have a 30 day money back guarantee as well so if for some reason you are not satisfied with the unit you could return it.

Re: Question about egonomics of the smartNav

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:27 am
by ncc1701d
as a long time user 4 years now. You only get neck strain if not sitting vertically and therefore your neck muscles are used to keep head up. When sitting verticle you barely use your neck muscles and if you have your natural point setting set correctly that minimizes neck use as well.
being relaxed while using it helps to. Having large buttons, thick window borders etc make for easy targets when using dwell clicking helps to.
It will be an adjustment in working methods but o so worth it. After a while i dread going back to mouse or old methods.
comparing hands and neck control use. your hands are under much more stress while using them compared to neck.
Posture and being relaxed is key with natural point and dwell clicking

Re: Question about egonomics of the smartNav

Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:51 am
by garygfx
This is my first day of using Smart Nav and it can't be a coincidance that I've just developed neck pain. I think it's because I'm over-using my neck muscles for very fine movements. Usually I'd move my eyes to look around the screen so my neck is being asked to do something it's not used to. Maybe I'm tensing my neck muscles too much in order to have fine control over the mouse pointer?

I thought I'd try Smart Nav to reduce my achey RSI hands but now I think I have an RSI neck! Perhaps my neck will get used to it after a full week.

Re: Question about egonomics of the smartNav

Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:15 am
by kevin
Please check out this thread for tips and tricks on how to best use the SmartNAV: ... 4;t=000124

Re: Question about egonomics of the smartNav

Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 11:21 pm
by garygfx
Thank Kevin. I read the thread and also the other one it links to. I tried putting the dot on the tip of a microphone (headset) but it exaggerates movements making precise control impossible so I'm sticking to using my glasses for the dot.

If I slow down the pointer it means I have to move my head more to travel from one corner of the screen to the other and I end up looking out of the corner of my eye, but it's the only way I've managed to gain precise mouse control to select letters in a text editor. Perhaps I should save up for a 32" widescreen monitor! My monitors are 19" so they're not that small and I'm less than an arms length away from them.

I've played with mouse smoothing but with less of it the pointer moves up and down with my breathing (I have to hold my breath!) and with more smoothing it introduces a time lag when trying to make small mouse movement. I can't find the right balance.

I'll try it again for 1 more day but I can't risk hurting my neck for too long. I know the problem may go away if I reduce the screen resolution but I need all the real estate I can get. Perhaps SmartNav isn't ideal for text editing at 1280x1024 due to the very precise control required? Thanks for listening, I hope I'm not being too critical, I do think it's a cool product. :-)

Re: Question about egonomics of the smartNav

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 4:53 am
by kevin
When you need the more precise movements you could try toggling on precision mode.

Re: Question about egonomics of the smartNav

Posted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:22 am
by tony3010
I realize that this thread is just under three years old, but a lot of the questions raised in it are very important to me.

Most of the old links don't work. I can't find any of the threads that the NaturalPoint representative posted, and the link to the study is also dead.

I'm very interested in SmartNav's potential to cause neck strain because, as I understand it, there are often problem spots in the neck area of those with RSI.

I'm trying to decide between the SmartNav mouse and some much more expensive eye trackers (a.k.a. gaze trackers). Eye trackers don't require body movement of any kind.

The SmartNav mouse, just like various "ergonomic" hand mice and foot mice, requires repetitive motion, which is a big factor in the development of repetitive strain injuries. It seems like the SmartNav mouse just shifts the load from the hands to the neck. If the hands can be overworked by working with regular mice and feet oveworked by foot mice, it stands to reason that the SmartNav mouse can overwork your neck. Just like with other kinds of mice, there are techniques to minimize the strain on your body, but the potential for repetitive strain injuries seems to still be present.

The representative's claim that "there is no more strain or fatigue generated using our device than with any other daily living activity" is unsubstantiated. The neck movements that we make on a daily basis without thinking about it are varied and have lots of breaks in between. Use of a SmartNav mouse requires a lot of repetitive neck movement on an almost continuous basis if it is to be used as the primary mouse. That hardly seems natural.

Also, when it comes to repetitive strain injuries, the fact that the product has a return policy isn't of much use to anyone. By the time that you develop the injury, it will most likely be too late to return the product. Plus, what use is the $400 you paid for the product once you are injured... it's not like that's going to cover the cost of your injury.

Despite its potential to cause injury, I'm still interested in the SmartNav mouse because I imagine it can be used to supplement the input devices and software that I already use, which include a couple of different hand mice, a foot mouse, an ergonomic keyboard, and speech recognition software. In essence, I want to use the SmartNav mouse to add more variety to my computer use in order to avoid overusing any one part of my body. All computer input methods have the potential to cause injury, including speech recognition (voice strain), but the more varied you can make your use of the computer, the less potential there is for injury.

I welcome any further information on this topic.