A Contoured Keyboard For Digital Wellness

Creative director James Ellis on the ergonomic device that saved his career (and wrists).

Written by James Ellis

In our #NotAnAd series, smart people sound off on the smart devices that have changed their lives. No legal tender, swag or other forms of currency have been exchanged for these ringing endorsements.

"I’m very good at computers. One might say it’s the secret to my success. And what a remarkable tool! It’s certainly my mind’s bicycle.

Being good at computers helped me get a New York City design job. No matter that I was a 19-year-old high school drop-out; I knew how to make Macromedia Flash websites! I was hired. I worked a lot.

In my twenties my arms started tingling. Pain would radiate from my hands, running up my otherwise numb arms. I got concerned. My doctor explained that I had developed a Repetitive Strain Injury. The only solution was to stop doing what I was doing every day. 'Doc, I can’t stop computing… what about a cortisone shot?'

The doctor recommended I check out KINESIS, a company that specialized in ergonomic input devices. They had strange keyboards, mouses, foot pedals—if you’d lost a limb for example, but still needed to compute, they were the brand.

"The keys made a clickity clackity racket. Aesthetically atrocious, and audibly annoying to coworkers."

I purchased the flagship KINESIS Advantage™ keyboard: an awkward, expensive device that looked like something from NASA. The keys made a clickity clackity racket. Aesthetically atrocious, and audibly annoying to coworkers. But the split-position, contoured design was life-changing. With my arms and wrists in an open, natural position, and function keys moved to my thumbs, the pain melted away.

I’ve owned three Advantage™ keyboards in the decade since. Always the ugly white version with the blue home row. And now that we’re all chained to the machine, everyone aches, everyone pains. Standing desks are poppin'. People blast CBD just to get through the digital day. It’s no surprise KINESIS seems to be having a moment. And the KINESIS Advantage2™ keyboard is better than ever, comes in a variety of unattractive colorways, and you choose mechanical key switches that best suit your tastes."

James Ellis is a partner at Public Announcement.