Microsoft steps up battle against RSI

Microsoft steps up battle against RSI

But could this open the door to repetitive foot injuries?

Microsoft is looking into deploying foot controls to give computer users' hands a break from typing and moving the mouse around. The technology might aid in battling repetitive stress injury.

At its annual TechFest in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft Research presented its Step User Interface. Using a sensor mat, researchers demonstrated how individuals can use the technology to perform repetitive tasks such as scrolling and to open, close, delete or flag email messages or move them to folders by tapping on six buttons on the floor. In another application they created foot controls to brows and sort a digital photo collection.

"Many information workers spend a majority of their time trapped at their desk dealing with e-mail. We wanted to provide them with an alternative," Brian Meyers, a member of the Step User Interface Project Group involved in the prototype said in a statement.

"By allowing information workers to stand and continue to read, delete and flag e-mail messages, StepMail gives them a break from the keyboard and mouse, which reduces the risk of repetitive stress injury in their hands and wrists and engages more of their bodies' muscles."

Microsoft Research ifocuses on fundamental research. The Step User Interface is a research project and the company for now has no plans to turn it into a commercial product, says a Microsoft spokesperson.