Matthias Ritschl

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Operator Desk
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HCI Interface
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Lunatone
Kiska
break/through
B/F Industrial Design

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HCI

HCI Interface

 

2002 | TU Vienna

This concept was my contribution to a pan European project called “Humantec - future office. Design for the humanization of technology."

QW.RTY is not a ready for sale product.
The plexiglas cube with its scattered keys is an artificial attempt to INTEGRATE MOVEMENT to office work.
The aim is to find an alternative data entry system/interface which meets human needs better than the current keyboards.


Credits

Partner Gerald Sonnleitner
Custodian Peter Fattinger
Material Röhm Austria
Know How Alexander Mair and Lunatone
Support Barbara Stickler
            Bernd Hrdy
            Matthias Legerer



Problem Description

Today "office ergonomics" is mostly about DOs and DON'Ts. It's mainly about right angles, defined distances and supporting gel pads.
So it took quite a while to understand that the answer is not a multifunctional super sofa with multiple armrests and built in screens.
In fact, the more we got into the topic the more we realized that the common "QWERTY" keyboard was the element to work on.

The main problem is that the keyboard forces the office worker into an unnatural position for hours. This leads more or less directly to well known problems in arms, joints or back, the cardiovascular system, ... just to name a few.
In this respect additional arm, palm and feet rests or curved keyboards are just inferior workarounds and eventually even support this position.


Concept Idea

So we decided to work on HOW to bring MOTION back to the office world. Because adequate MOTION, so experts say, would solve many common problems.
Therefore the benefits would be ...

     better blood circulation
     greater vitality
     better posture
     less tensing of muscles
     better stress reduction
     less back and neck problems
     ...

The moment we realized that the keyboard was the problem it was clear that the key was to link the MOTION with the interface.
Mainly we tried to break the static posture while making sure that the movement does not become an extra hassle.








Analogies

So as soon as we saw how important motion is to the human body we strated to look for analogies.

And we found a lot. Starting from simple "joysticks" to the laser harp of Jean Michel Jarre.
Musical instruments as input devices were as much inspiration as tabletop games and SciFi movies.

Many people insisted however that the keyboard is the most efficient input device. Is that true? Maybe, to some extent.
But fact is that many people still can't type properly. Even after years of 8 hours practice each day. Imagine if we'd play the saxophone or do the rumba instead.










Design Concepts

So during the design process we tried to translate our analogies into products.
Many different concepts were developed but almost all of them ran into trouble, sooner or later.

The problem was that building a prototype was part of the assignment. Most ideas however, were either too expensive or difficult to build.

As a consequence, we decided to focus on the concept and kept QW.RTY on an extremely abstract and artistic level.

Therefore we decided to work with the "problem" itself. To "fix" the common keyboard.


















Realization

So we started to disassemble almost every keyboard in reach, looked for material sponsors and a place to work. 3 weeks to go to the exhibition in Vienna.























Final Result

The final result was a fully working "workstation". The keyboard (see first picture) however, was missing some keys.
Those keys and a trackball were mounted to the walls, floor and ceiling of a PMMA cube in order to force people to move.


Exhibitions in Vienna and Milano

2oo2 Technical University Vienna, Austria
2oo3 Salone del Mobile di Milano, Italy

The exhibitions in Vienna and Milano were a lot of fun. Surfing the web, sending mails and playing old acard games such as space invaders.

This layout might seem a little odd and inefficient, but as mentioned before, it's an artistic approach.

(And hey, 8 hours a day, 365 days a year is a lot of time to get used to it, right? ;)