An ‘alarming’ office chair




A team from Queensland University have developed an office chair that’s been fitted with an alarm to encourage office workers to get up and stretch their legs!

The alarming sounding invention has been designed with a seat pad that sets off a loud beeping noise if employees stay sitting at their desks for long periods of time. There’s no point trying to trick the chair by standing up and then sitting straight back down again as this will set off the siren again!

Whilst some people might see this chair as the perfect excuse for a tea break, the team who designed the device say that it could help to prevent serious problems. Gemma Ryde, a design team member and PhD student said: “Sitting for large portions of the day is associated with poor health outcomes and a reduced life expectancy, even for those people who might be considered physically active.

“The sitting pad results will contribute towards the growing body of evidence in the area of occupational sitting.

“Our studies have shown that the sitting pad is a highly accurate measurement tool that can objectively measure desk based sitting time and the number of times employees get up from their own desk.”

Over the years a vast amount of research has been carried out into the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and the evidence shows that sitting down all day can shorten your life. The University of Loughborough recently published research which found that a sedentary lifestyle can double the risk of someone developing serious conditions such as diabetes or having a heart attack.

Combatting the problem at work is simple: try getting up and speaking to colleagues rather than phoning or emailing them and leaving the office at lunchtime will help.

“The sitting pad results will contribute towards the growing body of evidence in the area of occupational sitting”

The ‘alarmed’ chair will measure the amount of time that the user spends sitting at their desk by using a medical grade pressure sensor and a custom made microcontroller which will record a timestamp each time they stand up or sit down. The chair seat pad also includes a feedback mechanism which is attached to the sensor and this can be set to trigger an alarm if the worker sits down for a pre-set amount of time.

The chair’s designers found that when using the device to monitor the sitting patterns of office workers, most spent over two-thirds of their working day sitting at their desk.

Gemma Ryde added: “It is important to accurately measure and understand behaviour in order to introduce effective intervention methods to the workplace to improve employee health and wellbeing, and to create a more productive workforce.

“Future interventions to reduce desk-based sitting time need to prompt each individual employee, in real time, as the prolonged, uninterrupted sitting occurs.”

Whilst this chair is certainly a novel idea, we think that there’s a lot to be said for a well thought-out office layout, designed to encourage office workers to get up, move around and interact with each other! Not to mention ergonomic office chairs that make the time that is spent sitting down as comfy as possible….

Posted June 11, 2013

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