Since laptops are so convenient and portable, many people work in locations that are not set up for long-term ergonomic comfort (for example, dining room tables or coffeeshop counters, e.g. Figure 1).
Since these locations were never designed for laptop use, they are typically set up in such a way that the laptop keyboard and screen are way too low, and you often see people hunching over their laptops in ridiculous fashion (Figure 2).
Ideally, people imagine that they would sit up straight, as shown in Figure 3. But that is incompatible with the position of the computer screen.
Luckily, the fix is simple: a modified version of belay glasses, a type of prism glasses used in rock climbing that were allow wearers to look up without craning their necks.
Except in this case, the prism glasses will look down at the laptop screen, rather than up, as illustrated in Figure 4.
Since prism-based belaying glasses already exist (surprisingly, only commercially available after 2007!), laptop prism glasses are probably not totally infeasible.
It would also be possible to use a VR headset to set up something like this, but at that point you might as well just set up a proper work space.
PROS: Improve your posture!
CONS: The “sweet spot” for seeing the screen is probably extremely narrow, so any movement of the wearer’s head may move the laptop screen out of the user’s view. Additionally, even the slightest imperfections in the prism would probably make text very difficult to read.
Do you own a crowded coffee shop? No? Well, you should remedy that, and then read on!
In large cities, coffee shops are often entirely occupied by people doing work on their laptops.
Coffee shops have come up with various strategies for dealing with the pros and cons of being a low-cost “co-working space,” but it’s often a problem for people who just want to sit down: a laptop-using individual with an external mouse and some notes can easily occupy an entire four-seat table, while only using one chair and ~50–75% of the actual table area.
There’s enough remaining room for two additional people to have coffee at that table without impacting the laptop user!
The easy solution is to have a set of “this seat / this part of the table is open, please feel free to use it!” signs at the front of the cafe (Figure 1).
A patron who only anticipates using 50% of a table could take one of these signs and put it on the unused section of their table (even if there isn’t room for a second laptop).
This would be really cheap to implement and doesn’t really have any downsides.
One objection is: “couldn’t patrons also accomplish this by asking if the laptop-user minds if they sit down?” Answer: yes, but that is irrelevant from the cafe owner’s perspective, since people tend to assume a no-tables-remaining cafe is FULL. Even if they “should” have just asked around, it still results in lost business for the cafe owner.
PROS: Could increase the effective number of seats in a cafe without requiring more space or furniture.
CONS: Maybe weirdos would use these signs as a way to try to lure other coffeeshop patrons into sharing a table with them, so they could then subject them to annoying and unwanted conversation.