Tech Industry

Software aims to improve your health

Magnitude is trying to force PC users to break bad habits that lead to injury.

Most people suffering from repetitive stress injuries try buying a new keyboard or consulting an ergonomics expert. But Magnitude this week is providing potential Carpal Tunnel Syndrome victims with a software package aimed at preventing problems associated with long hours at the terminal.

ErgoSentry is designed to help users break the numerous bad habits that lead to Carpal Tunnel. The program works by alerting computer users to dangerous trends in their manipulation of the keyboard and mouse, such as repetitive motion and failure to take adequate breaks. Pop-up windows warn users when their technique strays into dangerous territory and suggests stretching exercises and other health tips. The software can be tailored to the user's needs by choosing from 40 different factors.

Magnitude senior vice president Steve Rudnik says the program was originally designed for people who already had RSI symptoms, but the company found that a lot of people were interested in it as a preventive tool. "People are using the feedback from the program as a training tool," Rudnik said. "They begin to anticipate when a message is about to pop up and take a break before the program tells them to."

The company also offers additional plug-in modules called ErgoPaks that offer additional exercises and informative pictures, sounds, and messages. ErgoSentry is available for Windows 95 at $45.