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Herman Miller debuts new smart office furniture that sets activity goals

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Like a Fitbit for your desk

Herman Miller Live OS Image via Herman Miller

Herman Miller, the furniture brand behind iconic designs like the Aeron chair, has teamed up with designer Yves Béhar for a new suite of smart office furniture launching today at NeoCon in Chicago. Named Live OS (yawn), the system uses sensors that can come preinstalled with Herman Miller desks, or retrofitted to any existing work surface. The sensors collect on-the-fly anonymized data which is then accessed through a dashboard, giving companies insight into how spaces are being utilized.

On fixed-height desks, Live OS only tracks when people are present, but when used with Herman Miller’s sit-to-stand desks, it acts more like a furniture Fitbit. Through an app, people set preferences for things like desk height, which can then be recalled at any connected sit-to-stand desk by tapping a button. Individuals can also set activity goals (i.e., stand for 12 minutes out of every 60). When it’s time to change postures, the desk will prompt the shift via a soft buzz. For those who aren’t used to moving while they work, the app will gradually progress toward set activity goals over a period of weeks.

Herman Miller says the system is encouraging people to move more frequently throughout the work day. "Our initial testing indicates that employees using Live sit-to-stand desks have become more active,” says Ryan Anderson, director of commercialization for Live OS, “transitioning between sitting and standing six times as often as previously recorded.”

It’s well-documented that sitting for the majority of the day comes with health risks, but studies have shown that most users with motorized desks stop switching modes after a few weeks. It’s a problem companies like Stir sought to solve back in 2013 with its Kinetic Desk (which features a screen built into the desk’s surface), but now appear over-designed and inelegant compared to Herman Miller’s Live OS app and sensor system.

Sensors that are bought individually cost $100, and the corresponding software subscription runs $36 per desk per year. The software for sit-to-stand desks with Live OS sensors costs $60 per year. Quartz notes that both these subscription prices lower with volume and longer contracts.

Get up, take a stretch, then check out Live OS in action on the Herman Miller website.