A health-promoting system for relaxation and fitness breaks at work
- Design collaboration with Xipei Ren, Biyong Zhang
- Involved researchers: Jun Hu, Loe Feijs, Yuan Lu, Aarnout Brombacher
- Involved Company: BOBO Technology, Hangzhou
LightSit is a health-promoting system that helps people reduce sedentary behavior and chronic stress at work. It comprises a sensing chair pad that can track the user’s sitting posture and breathing unobtrusively and a light strip integrated into a monitor stand. LightSit works in two ways: it mirrors a user’s body movement by waving the light between left and right to assist low-back stretching exercises and also represents the user’s breathing pattern with the light brightening and dimming to facilitate deep breathing.
Stretching or Breathing, Refreshing and Working
The rapid advance of labor-saving devices and the task-oriented workplace norms have substantially decreased physical movements while increased mental stress in many jobs. Such transition has led to high risks of musculoskeletal injuries and stress-related health problems among office workers, threatening their physical and psychological well-being. Motivated by helping people reduce sedentary behavior and chronic stress at work, we design LightSit, a health-promoting system that can easily embed into a workplace to support fitness and relaxation breaks. LightSit comprises a sensing chair pad that can track the user’s sitting posture and heartbeat unobtrusively and a light strip that can integrate into a monitor stand as an ambient display.
The LightSit system is designed with two working modes: the peripheral intervention and the interactive assistance. In the intervention mode, user’s stress level and sedentary time are calculated from the heartbeat and posture data and presented through the subtle changes of the light pattern to increase peripheral awareness on body states without disturbing the ongoing work tasks at hand. When the user is overstressed and sitting for an extended period, the light will become brighter and more saturated to prompt a short work break with fitness and relaxation.
During the break, the assistance mode of LightSit can interact with user’s sitting dynamic to assist the low-back stretching exercise or responds to user’s breathing pattern to facilitate deep breathing. When the user stretches the body trunk laterally, the light waves between left and right to mirror the movement. When the user sits still and breathes deeply, the light rises and falls to mimic the breathing pattern.
LightSit contributes to office vitality initiatives. As the sedentary behavior and occupational stress are increasingly prevalent issues for office workers, this project investigates a health-promoting system for stress management and fitness training at work. LightSit is developed upon the outputs from two Ph.D. studies about the biofeedback for stress mitigation and interactive technology for fitness work breaks. Different from typical workplace health-promoting systems (i.e., active workstation), LightSit features in infrastructure-light that it can be simply attached to existing facilities (i.e., office chair, monitor stand) in the office environment. Different from traditional biofeedback techniques (i.e., GUI-based rehabilitation system), LightSit features in the unobtrusive sensing and the ambient display that it can facilitate fitness and relaxation training seamlessly without overburdening the work routine.
Different versions of the prototypes have been implemented and exhibited in World Design Capital 2016 (in Taipei) and World Industrial Design Conference 2018 (in Hangzhou). The feasibility of the initial technological iteration has been proved and published in the 18th ACM MobileHCI conference. As a design research project, the prototypes have also been used as research probes for different user studies. Part of the results has already been published in top HCI journals, i.e., Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. Currently, a new prototype of LightSit is being re-designed to strengthen the stability and reliability so that the audience could have a more vivid interactive experience with LightSit at the Mind the Step exhibition.