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Ergonomic Quality in Office Spaces

My graduation project at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences was a design research on an intervention for physical wellbeing for office workers. Based on research on the industrial revolution and consequences to our health due to the way we work, a stool for office workers was produced to fight the sitting culture currently established in office spaces. The result is a rocking stool enhanced with computational power with a connected mobile app.

With the arrival of the digital- and information age, more and more workers practice their work in office spaces. Here, work is usually done while seated at a desk while working on a computer. Science has proven that lack of physical activity results in alarming health disorders such as cardiovascular diseases. The deeper problem lies in the sitting culture currently established in modern office environments. These environments are designed for office employees to perform their work while seated. Therefore, a behavioural intervention is required.

Quantifying Sedentary Behaviour

The first step is optimizing physical activity without the reduction of labour productivity. Working dynamically means a frequent and efficient alternation between sitting, standing and moving. The Buoy rocking stool, made by Enrichers, stimulates in-chair movement and sitting up with a straight back due to the dome- shaped frame. However, this ergonomic quality is not yet measurable, nor does it encourage a long-term behavioural change. The lamp in the stool will be activated when the sitting behaviour of the user becomes irresponsible. The signal will simply advises the user to continue their work in a non-sedentary way.

When the Buoy advises the user to stand up for a while, it is important for the user to receive feedback on their sitting behaviour. By consulting the web-application the user receives both a quick summary and in-depth analytics about their ergonomic situation. The in-depth insights are based on the three pillars of healthy sitting behaviour: sit-stand variety, in-chair movement and the sitting posture.

Technology

The system consists of a Buoy, a 3D-printable add-on holding a printable circuit board with a micro-controller and a mobile app. The add-on tracks sitting behaviour and analyses your ergonomic wellbeing. A force-sensitive resistor in the seating area measures (the duration of) presence. When the user is seated, a gyroscope and accelerometer in the 3D-printed add-on tracks in-chair movement. Lastly, by reading out pressure points in the seating area the sitting posture of the user can be analysed.