LightSit: an unobtrusive health-promoting system for relaxation and fitness microbreaks at work

This project has been shortlisted for the DPH 2019 Innovation Prize – Best Data Driven Innovation

Team: Xipei Ren and Bin Yu (Eindhoven University of Technology)

Outline: The rapid advance of labor-saving devices and the task-oriented workplace norms have substantially decreased physical movements while increased mental stress in many jobs. Such a transition has led to high risks of musculoskeletal injuries and stress-related health problems among office workers, threatening their physical and psychological well-being. Motivated by helping people reduce sedentary behavior and chronic stress at work, we design LightSit, a health-promoting system that can easily embed into a workplace to support fitness and relaxation breaks. LightSit comprises a sensing chair pad that can track the user’s sitting posture and heartbeat unobtrusively and a light strip that can integrate into a monitor stand as an ambient display. 

The LightSit system is designed with two working modes: peripheral intervention and interactive assistance. In the intervention mode, user’s stress level and sedentary time are calculated from the heartbeat and posture data and presented through the subtle changes of the light pattern to increase peripheral awareness on body states without disturbing the ongoing work tasks at hand. When the user is overstressed and sitting for an extended period, the light will become brighter and more saturated to prompt a short work break with fitness and relaxation. During the break, the assistance mode of LightSit can interact with the user’s sitting dynamic to assist the low-back stretching exercise or responds to the user’s breathing pattern to facilitate deep breathing. When the user stretches the body trunk laterally, the light waves between left and right to mirror the movement. When the user sits still and breathes deeply, the light rises and falls to mimic the breathing pattern. 

LightSit contributes to office vitality initiatives. As sedentary behavior and occupational stress are increasingly prevalent issues for office workers, this project investigates a health-promoting system for stress management and fitness training at work. LightSit is developed upon the outputs from two Ph.D. studies about the biofeedback for stress mitigation and interactive technology for fitness work breaks. Different from typical workplace health-promoting systems (i.e., active workstation), LightSit features in infrastructure-light that it can be simply attached to existing facilities (i.e., office chair, monitor stand) in the office environment. Different from traditional biofeedback techniques (i.e., GUI-based rehabilitation system), LightSit features in the unobtrusive sensing and the ambient display that it can facilitate fitness and relaxation training seamlessly without overburdening the work routine. 

The LightSit system was demonstrated at Dutch Design Week 2018, and its user experience and acceptance were evaluated following the showroom approach, in which more than 500 participants experienced our system. The results suggest that LightSit has the potential to prompt and facilitate small bouts of desk-based fitness and relaxation exercises with relatively low effort without overburdening office work. In the future, we plan to conduct a longitudinal field study with a large group of office workers to validate the effectiveness of our design in promoting workplace health and explore its benefits in supporting a systemic change toward healthier workstyles.