A trackball as a computer mouse. Never seen one? That is not surprising because so-called trackball mice are rather rare in the workplace. Nevertheless, they offer some advantages over standard mice. Here you can read how they work and why they may offer the best solution in some situations.
Those of you who have used an older mouse will probably remember the ball at the bottom of the mouse. When the mouse moved, the ball under the mouse moved accordingly. In this way movements were recorded and transferred to the screen. Nowadays, this system has been replaced by an optical sensor that immediately 'sees' the location of the mouse in relation to the area below it.
With a trackball mouse, this system is reversed. The ball is often a lot bigger and it is positioned at the top of the mouse. The major difference is that you operate the mouse using your fingers and thumb on the ball. Unlike a standard mouse, you do not move the mouse itself, only the ball.
Pros and Cons
Because you do not have to move the trackball mouse over your desk, you do not make any unfavourable rotational movements from the wrist. You can also alternate between your left and right hand (provided you have a trackball mouse with the ball on top). Finally, this mouse is very suitable for precision work. You can make small, precise movements with the ball, which is handy, for example, when working with CAD software.
However, a trackball also has disadvantages. There is an increased chance of straining the fingers because you only use the fingers to make precise movements. In addition, some types of trackball also use the thumb for fine motor skills, while the muscles in your thumb are actually meant for grip. Also, the forearm can become strained because it is twisted into an unnatural position (this is called pronation). Finally, it takes some time to get used to operating a trackball mouse.
Suitable or not?
Does the trackball mouse sound like a possible solution for your customer? Or do you think vertical or a central mouse could be a better choice? In our white paper 'What is the best ergonomic mouse?' we help you compare ergonomic mice and offer well-founded advice.