Sherbondy, et. al., writing in the journal Radiology (2/2005) had a bunch of radiologists try to find a lesion on a 3D display using a mouse, a trackball, a tablet, and a jog-shuttle wheel. The jog-shuttle won, with the fastest detection time of the four input devices, and provided less stress on the hand and wrist than a trackball.
The jog-shuttle device chosen was the ShuttlePro2 from Contour Designs:
Well, after reading this, I just had to try it! The ShuttlePro2 retails for around $100, but I got mine for $60 from eBay, very gently used, but nearly in near-perfect condition anyway. Once out of the box, it rather resembles Darth Vader's cod-piece, but it turns out to be much more functional. (My friend Zach wants to know how I know this. His skepticism could be on target; there must be some reason Darth is always breathing so hard....) Anyway, you plug the ShuttlePro in to an unused USB port (becoming harder to find on my laptop these days), and load the software. If you happen to be using it for its intended purpose of video editing, there are a number of preloadedaded configurations for the inner and outer wheels and the fifteen other buttons.
"Jog-shuttle wheel (mixed-control mode): The ShuttlePro jog-shuttle wheel is designed for video editing and allows one to view image sequences both in motion and frame-by-frame. The inner jog wheel rotates freely with detents every 36°, advancing the image one frame per detent in the corresponding direction (position map). The outer wheel can be rotated continuously 90° in either direction from a starting position. We mapped the displacement of the outer wheel (in terms of its rotation from 0°) to control the rate of continuous scrolling with seven linearly increasing increments from eight to 400 sections per second (velocity map). A spring provided a force feedback proportional to the displacement. Because the spring actively forces the wheel back to the zero position when no force is applied, it was not necessary to have a dead zone.....the ShuttlePro jog-shuttle wheel ranked highest in the subjective ratings and was among the set of fastest devices (the devices in that set were not significantly faster than one another). It is likely that the ease of accurate positioning with the inner wheel, which led to the lowest overshoot distances, was a key factor in the ease and satisfaction with this device. "
I am in the beginning stages of setting it up to function with Amicas LightBeam. So far, it is working as advertised in the Radiology article. My only complaint/concern to this point is that I still have to move my hand back to the mouse (or trackpad on my laptop) for a lot of things. I have the buttons set up to change window and level settings, to change sequences, and to close the study. I have not yet tried the ShuttlePro with the embedded Voxar, but I suspect that is where it will shine.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Addendum: I haven't had as much luck with the 3D software, mainly because the embedded Voxar apparently lacks keyboard shortcuts to move from the coronal to the sagittal to the axial planes, and the ShuttlePro2 software depends on keyboard commands. I've got Amicas looking into this.