The Design of a Squishy Mouse

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Five research studies were conducted to specify the physical description of a novel mouse for an office computer. The mouse had side buttons that when pressed at the same time, moved or scrolled the contents of the active window. The studies examined accidental activation of both the side buttons and the top buttons, whether the mouse should be single button or have multiple buttons on its top surface, the back width dimension, volume and silhouette, top button position, and side button size and position. Each study provided data that was used in the next study, after it was reviewed by a design team. This case study shows that in design/development environments, quick, iterative studies serve the needs of design teams by providing successive approximations to the final design in a timely fashion. The utility of this method is compared to a multifactorial design.

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A series of research studies were conducted to develop design criteria for a general purpose mechanical input device. The design criteria and parameters were established with ergonomic studies which included task analysis, competitive analysis and human performance testing. By taking a leadership role in the production issues, Human Factors engineers were successful in having the results of their research implemented into a new design. This report is a case study which offers some insight into methodological and design issues associated with producing an ergonomically designed product.
Two experimental tasks were designed to test use of multiple-button mice. In the first, number of errors made and time to complete subtasks were measured as subjects attempted to depress one, two, or three buttons under three sets of conditions. In the second, subjects were asked to indicate true or false either by pressing one of two different buttons or by clicking a single button one or two times. People tended to be faster and more accurate using different buttons than different numbers of clicks.
Observations, comments and results of short studies indicate that daily production use of a mouse can lead to complaints of cramped hands from gripping the case tightly, and stiff finger movements from operating the button(s), plus soreness of the heel of the hand and wrist from rubbing on the work surface. A series of short studies was conducted to develop and prove out design criteria for a new mouse case design. Based on these results and a cost/performance analysis based on marketing data, a decision was made to produce this mouse design. These studies are briefly described along with the arguments used to make the decision, and a description of the ergonomic tools and features incorporated in this design are presented.
Design and Evaluation of an Effective Human Interface for a 3-D Graphics Editor
  • Mountford S.J.