How's your office chair feeling? We know from experience it can take hours of intermittent adjusting to get your chair position to hit the sweet spot. And even after all that adjustment, the angle still might be doing your back more harm than good. (Check out our best office chair post if you need an upgrade.)
That low burn in the small of your back and the tightness in your shoulders that comes from too long sitting at your desk could now be thing of the past due to a clever invention. UX designer Olesya Chernyavskaya (opens in new tab) put her design skills to good use (see our great web design tools (opens in new tab) list to improve your own skills) and created the Fix Posture website.
The Fix Posture (opens in new tab) system is a nifty piece of design, that Chernyavskaya describes as an 'experiment'. Chernyavskaya made use of machine learning software PoseNet (opens in new tab)– a vision model that estimates the pose of a person in an image or video by checking where their joints are. She then enlisted the help of the webcam so that the website can automatically detect if the user's position becomes suboptimal.
You start by setting the optimal sitting position by giving the system reference points – detailed instructions are on the website but it's as you'd expect, feet on the ground, shoulders relaxed and back fully supported – and then the computer screen turns blurry if you aren't sitting correctly, for example if your shoulders hunch or you start slouching.
The website explains in much more detail how the design works, including Chernyavskaya's processes and even details like user journey maps. We think it's a pretty cool experiment.
People on Twitter love the idea, with the original tweet gaining 1,096 retweets and 4,625 likes at time of writing. Responses range from outright joy:
pic.twitter.com/hFBijHfxhN9 September 2019
To some interesting points about back health.
Very cool.. but a common misconception that consistently sitting up straight is good posture. Humans didn't evolve to sit at desks. What would be better is AI that detects movement/posture change every 15-20 mins.8 September 2019
Chernyavskaya also drew attention to her step-by-step design processes and codes, encouraging people to access them and remix their own stuff. It's worth checking our the rest of her Twitter feed for more AI experiments, including one that changes the size of text depending on how close to the screen the user is.
Have you ever tried to read a book on computer while ironing clothes? Probably no. So I made an experiment where text changes size depending on your position in front of the screen with @TensorFlow.js #PoseNet model special for you. <3👁️ Check it out: https://t.co/Xet3sxcdkU pic.twitter.com/bm7VRvGREU6 August 2019
The Fix Posture website has certainly raised a discussion about future health-related possibilities in AI. Also included on the site are tips for keeping good posture and back health, and given the health implications that come from a sedentary career (see our post on how web design can affect your health, and what to do about it (opens in new tab)), the link between AI and mental/physical health is potentially worth exploring further.