Chulalongkorn University innovates “smart” seat for improving sitting posture

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A team of Chulalongkorn University‘s doctoral students has created a smart “DynaSeat” to adjust sitting behaviour to prevent neck pain and promote fast recovery after office syndrome.

“Office Syndrome is an ailment that takes time to accumulate. By the time one notices the symptoms, they are already suffering and healing takes time. One of the main reasons is poor posture and prolonged sitting.  Therefore, the proper sitting position is one way to prevent office syndrome,” explained Nipaporn Akrakittichok, Biomedical Sciences Program, Chulalongkorn Graduate School and Phuriphat Wawngernngam, Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences.

This innovative behavioral adjustment seat that aids in preventing office syndrome has won a Gold Medal and Very Good Award in a Collegiate Innovation Contest 2020 at the Thailand Research Expo 2020.

According to the research team, DynaSeat has three main components: an inflatable seat, a controller, and an application with two functions designed to adjust sitting behavior.

“The first function is Dynaseat that will inflate the air into the seat forcing the users to move when they are uncomfortable, unbalanced, or sitting poorly for too long.  A red light indicates that the user should correct the sitting position.  Report of user’s sitting behavior is available in real-time on the application on how the user sits — crouching, leans to the left, or crossed-legged, for example,” said Nipaporn.

“The analysis is done by pressure sensors that measure the pressure of the airbag in the seat, so the users can learn how to adjust their sitting posture to prevent stiffness.  Once the posture is correct, the indicator will turn green,” said Nipaporn.

The other function is DynaRest which reminds the user to get up after a while.

“When the Dynaseat user has been sitting for a long time, the system will remind the user to get up and take a break from work.  A timer is set to see if the user is away for less or more time than specified by the program.  Increments will be rolled over to the next cycle.  This program allows the user to move and not to sit still for prolonged periods of time,” Nipaporn added.

Nipaporn cited the results of the experiment that Dynaseat prevented up to 70 percent neck pain and 80 percent back pain in the samples who tried the smart seat.

“We also tested people with neck pain from office syndrome, and found that using Dynaseat, along with physical therapy, improved neck pain problem for patients in as little as 1 month, compared to the typical 2 months most of the patients would usually need for symptoms to subside.”

This research project came under the supervision of Professor Dr. Prawit Janwantanakul, Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, and received support from Chulalongkorn University Technology Center (UTC), Srithai Auto Seats Industry Co., Ltd., and Thailand Science Research and Innovation (TSRI).

“At the moment, Dynaseat is in the commercial development process to come up with a marketable design at an affordable price for consumers.  In the future, we are planning to expand the project to cover other areas such as airplane seats, public transportation, movie theatres, etc.,” concluded Nipaporn.