Last week, the Consumer Technology Association’s CES 2017 dominated Las Vegas with a showcase of more than 3,800 companies ranging from software producers and virtual reality innovators to wearable tech brands and home appliance and carmakers. And with health and fitness tech becoming a growing part of CES, there were also smart desks tracking how many calories you’ve burned and reminding you to stand up, among other things.
Ergonomic office furniture manufacturer Humanscale showed its wellness solution called OfficeIQ, which works in conjunction with Humanscale’s various sit-to-stand products. This launch dovetails with the release of university-led research in which Bethany Barone Gibbs, assistant professor of Health and Physical Activity at the University of Pittsburgh, states, “Sit/stand desks are an easy way to get a boost in energy expenditure that fits into America’s current office culture. By combining the act of standing for part of the day with other casual activities, you can achieve a meaningful amount of extra energy expenditure while at work that could aid in weight control.” But caloric burn aside, she revealed, “Our findings add to a growing field of research that shows the benefits of sit/stand desks, including increases in productivity and energy and decreases in lower back pain, blood sugar and potentially blood pressure.”
Developed with Detroit-based software company Tome, OfficeIQ is in essence a discreet black- or white-gloss sensor box that sits on top of the desk or attaches underneath the work surface and, through its data gathering and alerts, attempts to combat sedentary behavior in the office. After initial setup, the box’s multiple PIR sensors will measure incremental caloric expenditure based on detected sitting and standing activity of the users. The users who opt in can view real-time activity data, which in turn encourages them to move or stand more, though they can also receive prodding via gentle reminders and alerts. In addition to weight-loss challenge features, the interface offers options for “gamifying” the experience by displaying leaderboards of participating workers. And, finally, OfficeIQ can integrate data from users’ personal wearable trackers to get a more accurate snapshot of activity, including during times spent away from the desk.
The manufacturer and Tome have also worked on a new sensor-based app for conference and task chair casters, which can be useful in tracking meeting room use as well as the activity of those who work on fixed-height desks.
Humanscale is banking on the theory that promoting healthier work styles in the office leads to happier workers, which is beneficial to both employee and employer. But the boxes can also be used to provide valuable information to employers about space and workstation usage. Those who are concerned about privacy need not fret: OfficeIQ also features a “Don’t Be Creepy” policy, which keeps private user data from being shared with the employer.