Document Type




Format of Original

15 p.

Publication Date



Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

Source Publication

Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1177/0018720811418111


Objective: The objective of this research is to determine the best location to place a conventional mobile computer supported by a commercially available mount in a light truck cab.

Background: U.S. and Canadian electric utility companies are in the process of integrating mobile computers into their fleet vehicle cabs. There are no publications on the effect of mobile computer location in a vehicle cab on biomechanical loading, performance, and subjective assessment.

Method: The authors tested four locations of mobile computers in a light truck cab in a laboratory study to determine how location affected muscle activity of the lower back and shoulders; joint angles of the shoulders, elbows, and wrist; user performance; and subjective assessment. A total of 22 participants were tested in this study.

Results: Placing the mobile computer closer to the steering wheel reduced low back and shoulder muscle activity. Joint angles of the shoulders, elbows, and wrists were also closer to neutral angle. Biomechanical modeling revealed substantially less spinal compression and trunk muscle force. In general, there were no practical differences in performance between the locations. Subjective assessment indicated that users preferred the mobile computer to be as close as possible to the steering wheel.

Conclusion: Locating the mobile computer close to the steering wheel reduces risk of injuries, such as low back pain and shoulder tendonitis.

Application: Results from the study can guide electric utility companies in the installation of mobile computers into vehicle cabs. Results may also be generalized to other industries that use trucklike vehicles, such as construction.


Accepted version. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Vol. 53, No. 5 (October 2011): 474-488. DOI: 10.1177/0018720811418111. © 2011 Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Used with permission.

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