DESIGN OF A POSTURE-SENSING CHAIR TO DECREASE SEDENTARY BEHAVIOR USING MICROCONTROLLERS, ITERATIVE DEVELOPMENT, AND YOGA

Open Access
Author:
Rajaram, Manaswini
Area of Honors:
Elective Area of Honors - Engineering Entrepreneurship
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Sven G Bilen, Thesis Supervisor
  • Frank T Koe, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • mHealth
  • built environments
  • sedentary behavior
  • microcontrollers
  • ios
  • arduino
  • yoga
  • BLE
  • iterative development
Abstract:
In recent years, adults have spent increasingly larger amounts of time sitting for work, leisure, and transportation. Occupations in the Western world have become more sedentary and less physically demanding, resulting in an estimated one-third to three-quarters of work time spent sitting by American adults. Moreover, poor posture resulting from increased sedentary behavior is a major cause of lower back pain and, when combined with the 7.7 hours of sitting most adults do on a daily basis, the effects can be detrimental. Lower back pain has been reported by 80% of the adult population in the U.S., and accounts for $75 billion in costs to the American economy. Prolonged poor posture can lead to musculoskeletal disorders that can cause pain and other health issues. Alarmingly, the increase in sedentariness has also marked a rise in lifestyle disorders such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Studies have shown, however, that the negative consequences of sedentary behavior can be prevented through breaking up periods of sitting with light to moderate activity. As such, mobile health (known collectively as mHealth) technology, along with the adaptation of built environments, have been successfully used to combat sedentary behavior through awareness of time spent sitting, posture correction, and pre-programmed sitting breaks. With this knowledge, chairs and desks, the popular choice for performing most work in the Western world, have been chosen for redesign. Through the wisdom of Iyengar Yoga and yogic seated postures, which are promising ways to improve cardio-metabolic health, a new floor-seated desk and chair product has been built using a series of design goals. The desk and chair utilize ultrasonic distance sensors and an iOS mobile application to detect and record posture information while also suggesting stretches and light activities periodically. The design is a combination of mHealth technology and a reimagined built environment intended to mollify the negative consequences associated with prolonged sedentary behavior and poor posture. Potential commercialization paths are also discussed.