The use of tablet computers such as the Apple iPad cause postural problems, which can be improved by placing them higher to avoid low gaze angles.
"Compared to typical desktop computing scenarios, the use of media tablet computers may be more of a concern for the development of neck and shoulder discomfort," said lead investigator Jack T. Dennerlein, from Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women's Hospital.
A group of experienced tablet users completed a set of simulated tasks with two media tablets, an Apple iPad2 and a Motorola Xoom. Each tablet had a proprietary case that could be adjusted to prop up or tilt the tablet computer, reports the Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation.
During the experiment, users completed simple computer tasks such as Internet browsing and reading, game playing, email reading and responding, and movie watching.
Head and neck postures and gaze angle and distance were measured using an infrared three-dimensional motion analysis system, according to Harvard statement.
The findings suggest that tablet users should place the tablet higher, on a table rather than the lap, to avoid low gaze angles, and use a case that provides steeper viewing angles.
"Our results will be useful for updating ergonomic computing standards and guidelines for tablet computers," said Dennerlein.