Just over a month ago, news broke that Hai Liam, one of the biggest names in the eSports world, is retiring due to a repetitive strain wrist injury.
In a blog post, Hai explained that his injury is debilitating, preventing him from competing at the level of other top performers on the eSports scene.
Repetitive stress injury (RSI) isn’t unique to the world of eSports. Hai could have been an everyday professional in an office and come up against the same problem. The near-constant use of a mouse and keyboard, coupled with sitting at desks in sometimes awkward and uncomfortable positions puts stress on our hands, wrists, neck, and back. This can result in considerable pain, sometimes reaching a point that prevents us from actually working for a period of time.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that RSI affects 1.8 million workers each year, while other studies suggest the yearly cost of RSI can be between $17 billion and $20 billion. The lineup of products to help prevent RSI – from standing desks and specialty office chairs to keyboards and mouse pointers – is quite expansive.
Being able to free your hands from repetitive work at the computer seems like one of the most reasonable ways to avoid these sorts of stress injuries. Emerging technologies like sophisticated gesture control and even facial recognition have the potential to help in this area, but a much more established technology like speech recognition is perhaps the most practical way of going hands-free at the computer.
Widely regarded as a tool for simplifying time-consuming documentation and reporting processes, speech recognition boasts many other benefits for professionals, including the relief of moving away from the keyboard and mouse. Sophisticated speech recognition programs allow you to complete practically any task on a computer – composing and editing documents, preparing presentations, creating spreadsheets, sending email, etc. – without the need for a mouse or keyboard. Those who currently use speech recognition consistently note that it alleviates stress on their joints – particularly those who are required to type large amounts of text throughout the day, like data entry personnel.
RSI also poses a threat to productivity more broadly. Not only is it painful, but it prevents those who live with RSI from getting work done. By taking away the mechanical aspects of typing, speech recognition can increase productivity for professionals who are afflicted with issues like RSI by letting them use their computers with more ease and comfort. They can be fully productive without aggravating their condition. For others, using these tools can help prevent repetitive stress injuries in the first place.