When we first introduced our flat panel monitor flip for emergency management furniture, we received a lot of attention and a number of projects followed. The monitor flip filled a niche in the emergency management furniture market that didn’t exist until then. I’ve written in detail about our monitor flips on the EOC Furniture page; however I want to touch on them again to dispel any concerns about their benefits when compared to alternatives. First, although we have done monitor flips for conference tables and custom workstations in small energy and traffic management rooms, the predominant application for monitor flips is still emergency management. Second, regardless of the application, monitor flips are normally used with one monitor per participant unless there is space for a wider workstation and if space between the monitors and the viewing angle are deemed acceptable.
The monitor flip feature was intended to meet specific objectives:
1) A method to mount the monitor in a way that it could be put away when not in use.
2) Make the desktop useful for other purposes when the monitor is not in use.
3) Position the monitor in such a way that it’s comfortable from both a viewing angle and focal length
4) Lower the monitor to the degree that the user can easily see and interact with other participants, and
5) Offer options for placement of the keyboard and mouse depending on the user’s preference.
All of these objectives are attained with Americon’s customized Communicator designs without conflicting with accepted ergonomic norms. I make this point because there are those that say the best ergonomic and functional solution is always a slat wall with an adjustable monitor arm. I won’t argue the ergonomic benefits of adjustable monitor arms having sold many over the years; however that’s not to say that they are the only answer. While adjustable arms are convenient and lift the monitor off the desktop, when the monitor is positioned up and in front of the user, the user can’t see much of what’s going on in the surrounding area and communication with other participants is difficult. This is important in emergency operations centers where participants interact with each other in the face of changing events. Moreover, if there are large video screens in the room, a raised monitor could obstruct the user’s view of the screens. In fact, an entire room with raised monitors could be problematic for this reason.
So, which solution is best? In truth, it depends on what you think is best for your concept of operation. If each participant requires more than one monitor, then adjustable monitor arms win by default because dual monitor flips are too heavy and normally require too much space to operate. In truth, both monitor flips and adjustable monitor arms are solid ergonomic solutions. If you think that a dual purpose desktop and interaction between participants is most important, then the monitor flip would be best. If you think that an unobstructed view of the large video screens and anyone standing in front of the room is important, then the monitor flip would be best. If neither is important, then adjustable monitor arms could be the best alternative. Either way, I can provide you the information to help you choose which is best for your application.
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