Purdue Engineers Develop a Chair With 'Sense'

Feb. 9, 2001
Purdue University engineers have developed a "sensing chair" that\r\ncan determine a person's sitting posture.

Purdue University engineers have developed a "sensing chair" that can determine a person''s sitting posture.

Researchers believe the "sensing chair" could improve the ergonomics of furniture.

The modified office chair uses software algorithms that interpret information collected by an array of pressure sensors in the backrest and seat.

When tested on 30 people, the chair demonstrated an overall accuracy of 96 percent in determining whether people were slouching, leaning in various positions crossing their legs or sitting upright.

"For anybody who wants to do anything related to ergonomics, slouching is the one posture you probably really want to discourage," said Hong Tan, an assistant professor at Purdue''s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "Perhaps such a sensing chair might sound a warning beep every time its user assumed a slouching posture."

However, the "sensing chair" may not be in stores too soon. Ergonomics experts question the researchers claim that the chair could "determine an ergonomically correct posture."

The Business and Institutional Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) addresses working postures in its provisional release on ergonomics guidelines for furniture.

"There is no uniquely correct working posture that would fit any user for an extended period of time and/or accommodate every personal working habit."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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