May 18th, 2021—
While designing and building projects, we probably find ourselves sitting far longer than we should, which poses a problem. Bad posture leads to all sorts of health issues, including back pain, limited circulation, and even headaches. A team of students at Tohoku University in Japan wanted to fix this by creating a new type of office chair, dubbed the TiltChair, that is able to dynamically adjust the user’s seating position. This helps to minimize strain on the body from prolonged sitting.
The TiltChair system uses an Arduino Uno that communicates with an MPU-6050 IMU to measure the current inclination of the seat. Additionally, a BME280 pressure sensor monitors if someone is occupying the chair. To tilt the seat, the Uno employs a pair of servos that both regulate an air compressor to inflate an air bladder, thus pushing up the upper plate, or activating a vacuum pump to lower the angle. From this setup, the seat can move up to 55 degrees!
The researchers then conducted two studies to find out just how well the seat works. In their first experiment, they had 12 participants perform a text-typing task at a desk. During this, the seat would move between nine different angles, and their resulting efficiency would be recorded. In the second test, they wanted to know which rates were best for inflating the seat, so using the same participants, the seat adjusted from 5 deg/min all the way up to 80 deg/min. As expected, the lower rates and angles were better for the users. But the chair also encouraged them to move around a bit more and sit up straighter, thereby achieving the initial goal.
You can learn more about the TiltChair in the video below as well as in the team’s published paper.