How can innovation help your back pain disappear?

How can innovation help your back pain disappear?
Business Collaboration Research
The concept of a Smart Chair to improve the health and wellbeing of office workers has been developed as part of a Responsible Research and Innovation project.
Business Spirit News reporting

Business Spirit News reporting Author

The pandemic and working from home have dramatically increased the time we sit on a chair and the number of people suffering from back and neck pains.

A Smart Chair helping you improve your posture and maintain good habits could be a solution to avoid the negative health implications of sitting while working.

As a part of the Living Innovation project, global digital services company ATOS worked on this problem, trying to find a solution with citizens, particularly Millenials and GenZ, experts and scientists.

“We held several Design Thinking workshops in Spain and remotely with Austrian young people to understand the real needs of these groups.

Then, experts in the company have analysed the results and tested ideas in a virtual innovation workshop,” says Lydia Montandon, Business Development Director at ATOS Research & Innovation group.

As a result, they developed the concept of a Smart Office Chair, which is expected to be ergonomically designed in line with the recommendations of therapists: it should provide good support for the back, while integrated sensors detect the incorrect postures and send information to the user.

Lydia Montandon, Business Development Director, ATOS Research & Innovation group

The company would need to cooperate with office furniture manufacturers and physicians or traumatologists to produce a Smart Chair that can meet these requirements.

“In the future, smart health will probably focus more on preventing illnesses or diseases, helping people to avoid bad habits and therefore enjoying better wellbeing and healthier lives. But, let me ask you: How do you feel about your back and neck today?”

adds Montandon.

Software developers would use AI technologies to analyse built-in sensor data and detect unhealthy patterns.

An app would serve as an interface for the users and alert them when unhealthy postures can be corrected.

The idea is that “correct” postures can progressively become normal and become a new habit for the user.

The interesting part is that this chair is designed to be “shareable”.

Once the sitting position has been improved for one person – or one employee in an organisation – the Smart Chair can be passed on to the next one.

Thus, the business model is based on the idea of health prevention benefiting both employees and organisations in the long term.

According to Lydia, the whole design process has been fascinating since they involved different stakeholders in the ideation process.

“It was an exciting experience to reach out to younger generations and experiment with co-innovation methodologies during the pandemic.

It requires a lot of effort, but the resulting value proposition is richer than what we could have been achieved with traditional methods,” she recalls.

So far, the product has not reached the market yet, but the design team expects that the involvement of all stakeholders in the first steps of the project design will enhance its adoption when the product is ready to be commercialised.

“The main barrier in embracing co-creation in product design is the time and investment needed to organise co-innovation activities involving a representative group of stakeholders, including citizens, experts, salespeople, organisers, facilitators, etc.

Another barrier is the innovative way of doing things, which is still not convincing to all interested parties. A lot of effort is needed to raise awareness about the benefits of this approach,” Montandon explains further.

Lydia believes that a change of mindset regarding designing and developing an innovative product is needed, alongside how you approach customers, involving them in the process rather than presenting a result.

One of the early achievements would be for her to see her colleagues complaints about their back pains and visits to the therapist disappear soon, and provide this relief for many other people in the near future.

To learn more about this and other Responsible Innovation projects join the 'Living in a smart future' session at the Responsible Innovation Summit virtual conference on 19-22 Ocotber.


Headline image: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Business Spirit News reporting

Business Spirit News reporting Author