The smart chair that wants to save your life

Sitting for more than 6 hours a day increases risk of death by up to 40 percent, which can be compared to the effect of smoking a pack of cigarettes. Armed with this knowledge, Liliana Lambriev and Melina Pyykkönen from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) set out to create a chair that encourages people to move more.

The time we spend seated is killing us, says Dr. James Levine of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. He has even gone so far as to state that “sitting is the new smoking”. Sitting has been proven to increase the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and kills more people than HIV each year, according to Dr. Levine.

Liliana Lambriev and Melina Pyykkönen from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design participated in a two-week workshop in collaboration with Space10 and IKEA exploring how technology and design can help us lead healthier lives in urban areas. They came up with the idea that our everyday objects could encourage us to move more.

A chair is a traditional part of life and has become an extension of our bodies – invisible and taken for granted. It’s perceived as a journey starter at home and arrival point after work at the end of the day

“A chair is a traditional part of life and has become an extension of our bodies – invisible and taken for granted,” says Liliana Lambriev. “It’s perceived as a journey starter at home and arrival point after work at the end of the day. We wondered if a chair could have different modes of action and could be reintroduced as an element of your daily life that motivates you to be more active.”

Liliana and Melina developed Clūnēs - a smart chair that discourages sedentary lifestyles in a simple yet effective way: it is impossible to sit on if you have already been sitting for longer than is healthy that day. How does it know? The user’s movements are tracked through their mobile phone or wearables and transmitted continually to the chair. 

If you get home and the seat is raised, the chair seems to be saying, “You need to move a little more”. Of course placing the seat back in its normal position can easily be done, but doing so requires you to make the deliberate decision to stay seated despite not having been active enough that day.

According to Dr. James Levine of the world-leading Mayo Clinic, sitting increases the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and kills more people than HIV each year.

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Denmark