If you own a mobile phone, you probably suffer from what ergonomics experts call “ear-mouth neck,” and you may not even know it. That’s a symptom of the neck’s attempt to connect the ear to the mouth, due to the phone being too short and not properly shaped to reach both. Moreover, the average cell phone user who doesn’t own one of those bluetooth hearing-aid thingamajigs finds himself pressing his phone right up to his cheek — making for a hot and sweaty mess in the summertime.
In the words of ergonomicist Blake Witherfield, “This is an ergonomic nightmare.” In fact, he believes that practically all phones in current use are of very poor design, as if they were made for robots and not for people. I had the opportunity to speak to him over the phone—an uncomfortable conversation on my end due to my own phone’s poor design—on a windy day last week1, and he explained that the shape of the human skull requires something “less flat” than the standard so-called “smart” phone on the market these days.
But soon, a new phone will hit the market, designed by Mr. Witherfield himself and dubbed the ErgoPhone by his marketing experts.
Leading a research team that meticulously mapped out the size and shape of the average human skull2 using cutting-edge laser technology (with a little help from Photoshop), Witherfield developed an algorithm to determine exactly what size and shape was needed for a telephone to rest comfortably with the earpiece (speaker) at the ear and the mouthpiece (microphone) at the lips of the user. The shape they found is called an “L-with-a-little-horn-at-the-mouth,” and looks kind of like the letter L with a little horn at the mouthpiece.
Public health expert Timothy Ulunkul, who works pushing papers in the Department of Health, says there have already been “more than a handful”3 of cases of people whose jaws have “permanent damage” due to constant use of mobile telephones, and adds that “it’s a wonder it took over a hundred years of telephone technology to figure out the proper shape of a telephone.”
Another impressive feature of the new Witherfield design is the ability for a hands-free device to be attached, which allows the user to hold the telephone between the shoulder and the ear, so both hands are free for other activities—dialing, writing, shuffling papers, reading Braille, even typing on a computer keyboard. And in case you are worried about the weight of the new device—admittedly larger than the standard phone — it can be easily mounted on a wall so you don’t have to carry it around when you’re not using it. In fact, the bulk of the device remains mounted on the wall during use as well.
Making its debut in November, the new ErgoPhone is sure to be a smash hit in electronics stores this Christmas, so you’d better pre-order. The Flying News is already anticipating a free sample, but you will probably have to pay for yours.
Oh: and just like its predecessor the Apple iPhone, it comes with the “Old Phone” ringtone that everyone loves.
- The wind has nothing to do with this article; it was just there for dramatic effect. ↩
- The average human skull was found connected to the body of a model who had recently died while donating his/her mortal remains to technology. ↩
- It’s worth noting that Mr. Ulunkul has 6 fingers on his right hand. ↩