A growing awareness among users of the benefits of ergonomically designed work tools and workspaces is having significant impact on how new products are being developed. This heightened expectation raises the bar for brands to offer more comfortable, healthier solutions, particularly for users performing immersive tasks over prolonged periods of time.
Vertical mice are a niche product that have been gaining momentum due to an ergonomic focus and promotion of wellness at work. When designed correctly, a vertical mouse can provide benefit by placing the user’s hand in a more neutral posture, reducing muscle strain, wrist pressure and fatigue. However, most vertical mice look a little strange and although much emphasis is placed on tactile ergonomics, poor visual aesthetics negatively impacts on user adoption.
Logitech creates innovative productivity and gaming peripherals that enhance comfort without limiting performance. The team’s challenge was to enter the vertical mouse market with a category defining product that provided a truly desirable product experience, combined with proven ergonomic benefits. Logitech partnered with Design Partners for expertise in human factors design and new product development.
"It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same."
Fabienne, Pulp Fiction, 1994
The process behind the design and development of MX Vertical is rooted in ergonomic research and artistic expression. Concentrated research into the ergonomics and kinematics of the hand informed the underlying architecture. We constructed dozens of functional prototypes to study a spectrum of angles, heights and volumes. Logitech ergonomists ran multiple user test sessions to measure and analyse muscle strain and performance activity across a variety of hand sizes. From this work, the optimum resting angle of 57 degrees was identified, placing the hand in a neutral “handshake” position without creating negative wrist extension. The data also helped us identify the optimum resting height for the thumb and, in combination, these factors resulted in a 10% reduction in muscle strain and four times less muscle activity when compared to a standard mouse, while not compromising on performance.
You know you have a strong project when everybody just ‘gets it’, this was in large part thanks to the quality of design & implementation that Design Partners brought to the table.
– Nick Jinkinson, Design Director, Logitech
However, creating a mouse focused on pure ergonomics will not necessarily lead to a desirable product experience. To achieve this, we needed to strike a balance between rational ergonomics and emotional desire. In parallel to the detailed analytical research, and unbound by the hard-ergonomic data we embarked on sculptural and aesthetic exploration to explored the essence of how a vertical mouse could be expressed. Accentuating the unique nature of this product – its verticality – became the cornerstone of the design expression. Inspired by elegant structures in architecture such as power station cooling towers, ceramics and sculpture, we started to build forms to explore the possibilities. An early form in the process, named “T2” was selected as the choice of aesthetic direction and while “T2” lacked the ergonomic requirements, it became the basis for the expression of the final design.
Next came the process of blending scientific data and artistic expression to ensure the mouse delivered ergonomic and performance benefits without compromising aesthetics; a process of working closely with Logitech’s great design and engineering teams to fine tune every last detail.
Material selection and refinement is a key element to the final product experience. The primary grip surface was constructed in two layers, where the inner layer is a ridged plastic structure ensuring the mouse is stable and robust in-hand. While the outer layer is a matte rubber surface that reduces sweat and helps the user grip the mouse with minimal effort. The vertical pattern on the surface helps with hand registration, adds to the sensory appeal and accentuates the vertical poise.
A crisp, machined aluminium plate caps the sculptural form and houses the “precision mode” button, which allows preferential adjustment to the speed of cursor movement.
“For me working with Design Partners on MX Vertical was a really satisfying and enjoyable experience. Having that kind of positive momentum is an enormous advantage especially when you're doing something new and challenging the status-quo.”
Nick Jinkinson, Design Director, Logitech
MX Vertical has been designed to be an aesthetically beautiful mouse, that provides a truly comfortable and natural experience. We are delighted with the positive response from so many users around the world and are proud to continue to work with Logitech’s team to create products that push not only the boundaries of design excellence, but that re-define what can be accomplished through craftsmanship and collaboration.