Experts' Insights

iChair: A Smart Chair as a Companion

    Dr. Janaka Wijekoon (Visiting Lecturer – Department of Industrial Management, University of Kelaniya), Hewagamage N.D, P.A.B.C Dias, D.K.A.A Dikowita, D.A.S.M Delpechithra

    Industry revolution 4.0 and the forthcoming 5.0 are focusing on cyber-physical systems and automation by recognizing the data patterns, limitless automation possibilities, and then beyond. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is playing a major role in the industrial revolution 4.0. Thus, understanding the importance, the United Nations also has introduced sustainable development goals to use ICT to find viable solutions to global challenges. Among those goals, uplifting human living conditions and wellbeing is treated as a priority. Thus, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems are playing a huge role to improve human wellbeing. Moreover, IoT being a cutting edge technology is an ecosystem; it has the capability to gather data to automate using intelligence, i.e., artificial intelligence. This article also discusses one attempt of such a system.

    Averagely, people spend half of their lifetime seated (Refer Fig. 1); the daily routine of a person, irrelevant of the profession, as well as when, where, and what, followed by sedentary behavior. Hence, it is discussed that the tendency of a person to be stressed while seated results in high blood pressure as well. Therefore, most of the companies spend a considerable amount of money on the chairs to make the employees comfortable and healthy. However, even such expensive chairs are not capable of detecting the seating abnormalities and suggesting correct sitting postures to make a healthier life. In fact, the abnormal postures can be certainly harmful for a healthier life resulting in health issues such as coronal cancers, nervous diseases related to stress, and heart strokes (Refer Fig. 2). Therefore, this article discusses a novel topic of using the chair as the platform with the possibilities given owing to industry 4.0.

    Figure 1 -Time spent being seated in the daily routine of a person

    Figure 2 – Prevalence of LBP on occupations requires to sit for more than half of work time

    Figure 3 – High Level Diagram of the “iChair”

    To this end, as depicted in Fig. 3, an innovative method “iChair” was introduced with the main objective of making the chair a companion. iChair was designed based on the Herman Miller specifications and the solution has the mechanism of monitoring the variation of the posture of the occupant. The sedentary activities will be tracked by the device and then the data will be used for several forecasting. Those forecasting results are then displayed either in the web application or the mobile application. This helps the occupant to improve the style of the behavior on the chair.

    The proposed “iChair” is a smart chair that has the capability of,

    • Measuring the heart rate of the person seated.
    • Identifying the posture that the person is in.
    • Predicting the stress level by analyzing the heart rate and the posture.
    • Suggesting methodologies to ease stress.

    The developed AI analyses the data retrieved from sensors and the previous records of a particular person, for forecasting the wrong sedentary behaviours and abnormalities including stress and HBP. The mobile application or the web application displays the posture of the person in real-time, and such time series data will be auto-saved in a database by the AI. Thus the analysis can be done based on the sedentary behavior. One of the real-time seating posture displays is shown in Fig. 4. In the initial testing phases, the chair was tested for 6 continuous days with several personnel. Fig. 5. elaborates the data received with the classification of good and bad postures.

    Figure 4 – Graphical view of the user’s posture and the graphical view of the buttons (Posture 3)

    Figure 5 – Graphical View of good posture vs. bad posture

    The product iChair was initially introduced with the objectives of supporting software companies to increase the revenue by encouraging the employees to have a healthier lifestyle. The iChair predicted the risk of growth of LBP showing an accuracy of 76.5% with the limited tests conducted in the initiation test phases of the chair. One of the limitations of the chair is that it gathered data from the seating pan, and that has to be extended to get the data from the back-rest as well, which is one of the major future developments of iChair.

    By:

    • Dr. Janaka Wijekoon – Visiting Lecturer – Department of Industrial Management, University of Kelaniya
    • Mr. Hewagamage N.D – Founder/Owner, Xydder 3D
    • Ms. P.A.B.C Dias – IT Executive Columbus Tours (pvt) Ltd
    • Ms. D.K.A.A Dikowita – Management Trainee, Axiata Digital Labs
    •  Mr. D.A.S.M Delpechithra – Senior Software Engineer, Object One Pvt LTD

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