Color-changing LED stools let you know if you’re sitting with bad posture

Sitting down for hours on end is bad for you. But what is the best way to prompt folks to get up and stretch their legs every so often? Looking for a solution to that very issue has previously led designers, technologists and engineers to create everything from standing desks to the Apple Watch’s periodic reminders that you should get up and move around. A new effort from German research organization Fraunhofer may be our favorite approach yet, however.

They have developed a special LED stool which is designed to encourage healthy sitting, and prompt “active, conscious movements” while a person is sitting down. The health benefits of promoting healthy back movements could not just help reduce back pain (an obvious side effect of sitting with poor posture), but also cardiovascular problems, excess weight, and high blood pressure, which can result from an inactive lifestyle.

The stool is fitted with a variety of sensors and LEDs which offer color-coded feedback regarding the way that you are sitting, as well as providing more detailed information through a connected app. The pressure sensors in the stool identify incorrect posture through measuring a user’s weight distribution on the seat. The seat can even lead you through defined movement exercises.

Oh, and did we mention the games? That’s right: since this is a proof of concept, the researchers went one step further and constructed a gaming table which lets people play seat-related games. Okay, so a game that you control by sitting nicely doesn’t sound amazing, but in this case the results are pretty neat. The researchers reworked classic titles like Pong, in which you control the on-screen paddles by making certain pelvic movements.

“We know from scientific research that the balancing movements have a positive impact on mental performance in terms of concentration and productivity,” Nguyen-Truong Le, one of the researchers on the project, told Digital Trends. “By playing games in such ways at work, social interaction with co-workers can be improved.”

There are no immediate plans for commercialization. Instead, the researchers point to this as a demonstration of its soft pressure sensors. These can be built into a wide range of environments, including not only stools, but also mats, steering wheels, and far more. They could therefore be used for a wide variety of applications. Don’t give up hope if you’re dreaming of getting your hands on these smart stools, though. “There will be an open-source distribution of the instructions, including the CAD files and the software to rebuild this product idea,” Le continued. “Everyone can benefit from this project.”

Emerging Tech

Watch SpaceX’s parachute tests for its soon-to-be-manned Crew Dragon capsule

SpaceX is currently developing its Crew Dragon capsule to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. Now, a new video shows the parachute systems for the capsules being tested.
Buying Guides

The PS4 has great exclusives, but which ones should you get? Here are the best

The PlayStation 4's game library and an incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.
Home Theater

Still wondering why you should buy a smart TV? Here's what you should consider

If you've been living under a rock, you might wonder: What is a smart TV, anyway? Luckily, we've put together a quick-hit guide to teach you everything you need to know about televisions with big brains.
Home Theater

Is bigger really better? How to figure out what size TV you need

What size TV do you need? Here are a few tips for picking the right size, including where to find a TV’s measurements, ideal viewing distance, and picture quality versus size. Not sure what to look for? This guide is for you.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Emerging Tech

A.I. cameras could help stomp out wildfires before they become disastrous

This summer marks one year since California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire season ever. Could cutting-edge technology help avoid future incidents? One startup thinks so.
Emerging Tech

How pioneering pilot Jackie Cochran helped and hurt the Women in Space Program

Before Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space, Jackie Cochran funded the Women in Space Program. The pioneering woman pilot never realized her dream of venturing into space.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff! Here are all the moon missions happening in the next decade

The next 10 years are poised to be the most significant in lunar history in decades. What do we have to look forward to? Check out this handy guide to the coming decade of moon missions.
Emerging Tech

From the moon to mass production: 10 pieces of modern tech indebted to Apollo

This article is part of Apollo: A Lunar Legacy, a multi-part series that explores the technological advances behind Apollo 11, their influence on modern day, and what's next for the moon. You may have heard that freeze-dried food was…

50 years later, the first camera on the moon is still collecting lunar dust

The cameras aboard Apollo 11 captured some of history's most iconic images, including shots of Earth and footprints on the lunar surface. To commemorate the first moon landing, we look back at how Hasselblad's stripped shooters came to be.
Emerging Tech

Mars 2020 rover enters its final year of engineering before launch

The countdown has begun for the last year of development before the Mars 2020 launches between July 17, 2020 and August 5, 2020. Progress on finalizing the rover is right on track, according to NASA.
Emerging Tech

Could Mars’ now-barren Gale Crater lake have once supported life?

The Gale Crater is the site of an ancient lake which existed for millions of years. But even after the lake disappeared, groundwater could have remained for billions of years. Now, a team of scientists is searching for clues of life there.
Emerging Tech

Practically perfect in every way: Hubble shows galaxy with amazing symmetry

This week's Hubble image shows the spiral galaxy NGC 2985, located over 70 million light-years away. Hubble scientists describe NGC 2985 as having near-perfect symmetry, showing tightly wound spiral arms which converge in the center.

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Wearable chargers and A.I.-enhanced keyboards

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!