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A "smart armchair" will take care of you

16.10.2006
A surprisingly “attentive” armchair has been designed by Moscow specialists. Its load-carrying structure looks absolutely hi-tech and resembles in appearance a very “advanced” rocking-chair equipped with an on-board computer and a lot of sensors, owing to which it is exceptionally comfortable for work.

This is due to the fact that by attentively tracking the body position of a person sitting in it, the armchair is able to independently fine-tune to it: to slightly change the configuration so that the legs, for example, do not go numb, to warm up or, on the contrary, to slightly cool the back and the seat, to slightly change position of the arms of a chair so that the hands on the keyboard do not get tired. Along with that, the armchair maintains the optimal distance between the eyes and the monitor screen, and it looks after the mouse so that it does not “run away” and the keyboard does not slide aside.

Everyone is familiar with a situation when he/she has to spend a lot of time sitting at the desk. If the lengthy work fully takes up the individual’s attention, some time later the person feels that all the body “aches” as if from physical activity, and the legs simply “go numb”. The explanation to that is rather simple: in a static posture, the load falls on the same muscles and they are overstrained. And the body weight falling on a relatively small area below the back seems excessive within some time, even if both the weight and the area are not big. The tissues in this area get squeezed, blood supply deteriorates – and the brain sends urgent signals: it is necessary to change the body position.

If we are asleep or are not too busy, this is not difficult – a person would simply turn over or change the posture. But what if the person is working? Then it goes either way: we either “listen” to the requirement – and get inevitably distracted, and probably “lose the idea” which can be precious, or we do not get distracted – and thus spoil the health by ourselves.

All these observations, which seem to be lying on the surface, were articulated as follows by one of the designers of the “smart armchair”, orthopedic surgeon Alexy Kosik: “Any static posture, whatever comfortable it is initially, becomes tiresome within some time. If the posture is not changed – it would become unbearable.” The Gravitonus polyfunctional system - the ergonomic armchair – developed by him and his colleagues allows to the solve the problem.

Special imbedded sensors are constantly measuring the local temperature and pressure of parts of the body on the armchair surface. By constantly analyzing this data the embedded on-board computer ensures the feedback – it adapts the armchair to the user. Perhaps, the person did not have time to think that the back, for example, is tired or frozen – the computer has already counted with the help of the sensors that the person needs to give relaxation to tired muscles, and they should be slightly warmed up. As a result, there is no need to get up, stretch oneself, go to fetch the rug or a pullover – as if by magic wand the back of the armchair will slightly change the position and get warmer. Of course, the monitor slope angle and a distance to it would change to the right degree - in extreme case, it will be possible to work even in a lying position, which indeed better promotes not intense mental effort but sleeping.

Certainly, for common users such an armchair is hardly urgent - it will also be inevitably expensive and will require more space than a usual one. For professionals who spend full time at the PC this is yet an unachievable dream – the armchair has been patented, designed but only two copies had been produced. The first copy is at home of one of the developers – the authors are constantly improving it. And the second copy is an excellent example of how important such a construction may be. Not for everybody, but for persons with limited physical abilities. For those, who are so to say chained to the chair by a disease – but not to such a remarkable armchair but to a wheelchair.

In this case, the “smart armchair” allows to solve several problems at once. First, a person feels much more comfortable in such an armchair, and the most serious patients will have no bedsores – by the way, why not develop a similar bed equipped with sensors and a computer for bed-patients? Secondly, by controlling various devices via the computer both in the armchair and all over the house the patient will be able to significantly extend his/her abilities. If the patient operates the computer with the help of a special “mouse” developed by the same authors, which is placed in the patient’s mouth, then it is possible to live a rather full life even without arms, particularly if the Internet is available at home. This is the way the patient lives, who possesses the second of the two existing armchairs.

Nadezda Markina | alfa
Further information:
http://www.informnauka.ru

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