A dynamic desk chair that turns the human body into a computer mouse aims to cut down the time office workers spend sitting still. Matthew Stock reports.
It might not look the most comfortable seat in the house, but the designer of this dynamic desk chair hopes it will get office workers moving while they work. The spring-mounted exoskeleton bends and flexes with the movement of the person sitting in it. Sensors in the chair translate the action of the body into computer commands. With smooth motions of the limbs, the user can guide a cursor around a screen and click with a swift kick of the leg. Nicknamed the 'mouse chair', Dutch inventor Govert Flint says he wants to counteract the time usually spent sedentary at work. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GOVERT FLINT, INVENTOR OF THE MOUSE CHAIR, SAYING: "Instead of using our body energy in working life, we make it passive and in our leisure time we compensate it with sports or healthy lifestyle, and this is an attempt of integrating body movement with expression and working life, so with the energy you feel and energy you experience when you're working, you can express with your body while you work... so it's trying to evoke bodily expressions in your productive life and to make your body useful without that you have to do enforced movements like fitness or sports." Previous studies have found office workers spend about 75 percent of their work day sitting in a chair. Some studies show this leads to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabtes, and cancer But with every kick of the leg or twist of the hip, Flint says the 'mouse chair' could provide a remedy. Research carried out by Aalto University in Finland into the interaction between physical movements and emotions also inspired Flint's design. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GOVERT FLINT, INVENTOR OF THE MOUSE CHAIR, SAYING: "From their research they figured out that happiness relates to full body movement, so I want to try to implement in daily life functionalities, the full body movement, so people can generate without knowing in the long term, a more satisfied and happy condition." Flint concedes that some tasks, like writing an email, would be very tiresome if composed using the current prototype. But, he says, motion sensors could in the future be used alongside the 'mouse chair' to make it a viable product for a healthier, happier work life.