Introducing the ‘Smart’ Desk That Tells You When to Sit and Stand for a Mere $4,000
Those who are looking for ways to simultaneously increase productivity and fitness at work are in luck — if they have about $4,000 to spare. Stir, a company founded by a former Apple engineer, has introduced the Stir Kinetic, the world’s first “smartdesk.” It comes with a built-in touch screen for its controls and can be programmed to raise and lower throughout the day. The desk moves quietly to allow the user to alternate between sitting and standing for work during the day. It can be programmed to move in intervals (each 20 minutes, for example) and alert the user to a change in position by “breathing,” or moving up and down about an inch until the user selects an option on the touch screen. The Stir Kinetic can also tell when a user is standing in front of it. Also available on the market are several models of “dumb” motorized standing desk for $1,500, and a Kickstarter for a more basic $369 motorized table. The Stir Kinetic, however, will set buyers back $3,890, plus tax and $299 for shipping. The desk is likely a reaction to the research in recent years that cautions against sitting for too long. For example, hunching forward in an office chair can give workers tight, rigid muscles and joints, which increases the chance of injury when they do move. Researchers at the Australian University of Queensland’s School of Human Movement Studies recommends using a “sit less, move more” strategy for office workers. They say that sitting for too long can increase the risk of weight gain, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and even some cancers. In the United States, the National Safety Counsel also recommends using an ergonomics assessment to find the proper chair height, keyboard and mouse distance, monitor height, and more to help workers avoid injury. However, simply standing at work instead isn’t enough on its own, says Alan Hedge, an ergonomics professor from Cornell University. He says that moving around a lot and switching positions will help workers stay healthy on the job. “If you’re sitting in a static posture or standing in a static posture, that’s not particularly helpful, because muscles fatigue very quickly and the circulatory system is not being helped,” Hedge says. But moving around, he explains, “activates what’s called the muscle pump that helps to return blood back to the heart.” The Stir Kinetic can also learn users’ habits, but it can take around four weeks for it to begin timing its prompts. The touch screen also allows users to connect to a WiFi connection to download software updates. Workers can also use their Fitbit exercise bands to record their standing times and compute how many calories they’ve burned.