Standing desks get the app treatment with new solution to measure workplace health

There’s real interest in using standing desks to create more flexible workspaces and steer employees away from being too sedentary. Now a technology startup and the office furniture-maker Humanscale have unveiled an app that uses embedded sensors in desks and chairs to help employers quantify exactly how much their employees are sitting and standing. Humanscale […]

There’s real interest in using standing desks to create more flexible workspaces and steer employees away from being too sedentary. Now a technology startup and the office furniture-maker Humanscale have unveiled an app that uses embedded sensors in desks and chairs to help employers quantify exactly how much their employees are sitting and standing.

Humanscale and Tome, a Detroit-based startup, announced the invention, part of a solution called OfficeIQ, at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

From Tome CEO and co-founder Jake Sigal’s perspective, the emphasis of the app is on aggregating employee data to give companies a better understanding of how sedentary its workforce is. A big board on Humanscale’s stand showed the average amount of time spent sitting vs. standing.

Sigal said the OfficeIQ app is also designed to help employees track their own level of activity at the office.

But he added that for he and co-founder Massimo Baldini, one rule guided their approach: Don’t be creepy. That means the activity tracking begins and ends at work and doesn’t follow employees home into their personal lives.

The sensors are designed to detect motion, weight, and proximity, among other things. For instance, they can detect the difference between a backpack on a chair and a person.

The idea is that getting a better balance of sitting and standing time from its employees will lead to lower healthcare costs for companies over the longterm.

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Sigal added that the company is currently looking for companies who want to be pilot partners to evaluate the app.

Chris Gibson, the vice president of marketing for Humanscale, said the decision to respond to Tome’s pitch was “a natural evolution” for the business and was driven by the furniture company’s interest in answering the question of how to motivate customers to use their ergonomically designed products. The sensors not only go into the standing desks but also an adjustable laptop platform designed to convert a regular desk into a standing desk.