Touch and Gorilla Arm

gorilla-jpeg-image-175x201-pixelsAs we were recording the latest GBM Podcast I mentioned to Hilton and Xavier that I had recently heard about a condition called Gorrilla Arm that related to touch screens. According to some sources (here and here) Gorilla Arm was a factor in the demise of vertically orientated touch screen technology in the 1980’s. Others disagree as to the cause and effect, but there does seem to be an interesting story here.

The concept behind Gorilla Arm is this. It appears human beings aren’t designed to work with their hands doing intricate work or making small motions with their arms extended directly in front of them. After only a few minutes of this kind of activity, arms become tired, accuracy suffers, and the arm can even swell.

As we hear more and more about the coming wave of Touch, we also hear questions raised about whether or not a user with a desktop, or with a portable sitting on a desk, would be inclined to lift his/her arm to touch the screen. The jury is certainly still out on that, and regardless of the historical claims about Gorilla Arm’s effect on vertical touch screen technology, let’s hope that the current crop of touch engineers have learned from the past as we are about to see Touch rolled out in a big way with Windows 7.

(Note I mentioned in the GBM podcast that I heard about it on one of Leo LaPorte’s many podcasts, but after thinking about it, I remembered it was on the GDGT podcast.)