Intelli-chair: Don't forget to fidget!

If you sit at a desk all day, you'll already know that sitting in one position for too long will leave you stiff and uncomfortable. Well, what if your chair reminded you when you needed to make a move? The “Intelli-chair”, developed by researcher Risto Koiva and his team at Bielefeld University in Germany, will make a noise if the sitter is sitting in a poor position, or has been sitting down for too long. "Four touch-sensitive sensors in the seat of the chair and another four in the back of the chair detect how the user is sitting," Koiva said. "The data they collect is sent to a computer via a bluetooth module." Human beings aren't really designed to stay in the same position for too long, so regular breaks are important for your body, and your brain. Too many hours hunched in front of a computer, or tapping away at a keyboard, can put you at risk of back pain or repetitive strain injury (RSI). In the absence of a talking chair to help you, here are a few reminders of how to protect yourself:

  1. Take time to set up your work space. Make sure your workstation is adusted to make sure you can work comfortably, and to keep bending, twisting and stretching to a minimum. Your employer may arrange a risk assessment for you, but it helps to know how your workstation should be set up for maximum comfort.
  2. Sit properly. Sit upright, with your feet on the floor, or on a footrest if you need one. More on good desk posture.
  3. Take regular breaks. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) advises people to vary tasks, stand up to take phone calls and move around every 20 minutes or so. If you get absorbed in your work try keeping an egg timer or kitchen timer on your desk to remind you. More on your right to breaks.
  4. Stretch Stretching will help keep your back mobile and reduces muscular tension. Aim to stretch every day, so that it becomes a habit, like brushing your teeth.

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