HOME Technology Dec 2011
Challenging the mouse
Intuitive input gaining ground

Wacom’s popular pen and touch technology, familiar to the creative industries, is breaking ground as a mouse replacement for PC and laptop users.

Its highly sensitive pen and touch input devices assist designers, illustrators, film editors and others in their daily work and more recently Wacom has been offering its Bamboo range for the consumer market.

The Bamboo ‘tablets’ make it easier to use graphics and photo manipulation packages, navigate around the computer or the web and personalise emails and documents using a pen or finger movements.

Wacom Australasia general manager, Linda Zugai, says the peripheral devices might best be described as a giant mouse pad or tracking device on steroids.

She wouldn’t be without her Bamboo Pen & Touch which she uses for general computer and web navigation, and to take advantage of the annotation and handwriting recognition capabilities of Windows 7 for example.

Finger gestures supported

The Bamboo touch units have 1048 levels of sensitivity and enable the use of finger gestures to navigate, scroll, zoom in and out, surf the net and make presentations.

voiding repetitive strain injury (RSI) occupational overuse syndrome (OOS) or even Mouse Arm Syndrome (MAS) might be another reason to migrate to pen and touch. These injuries can arise from continual unnatural movements associated with using a traditional mouse and keyboard.

 “The way people hold their mouse or use the tracking pad on a notebook can create cramp and discomfort, while holding a pen is natural with about 80 percent less tendon strain,” says Zugai.

A smaller tablet that minimises hand movements is recommended for those wanting to minimise strain. For video editing or those regularly dealing with illustrations she recommends the Bamboo Fun with its 6 x 9 inch active area “which gives far more real estate for sweeping gestures.”

 The Bamboo tablets are also seen as part the growing trend toward reducing paper flow, by enabling annotations to be made on documents without having to print them, then rescan and return.

Zugai says lecturers use the tablet for marking assignments, the medical profession for electronic record management and cartoonists and photographers are big users.

One of the biggest mental blocks is that at first glance it may appear difficult. However Zugai says “It’s no different than a mouse – only you don’t have to look for the cursor in bad light, the whole active area represents the monitor and it follows your hand around the screen.”

  Back2front    General Interest Webzine