Instead of creating chic and trendy wristbands, watches and other wearable health devices to measure vital signs, this startup put tiny sensors inside a lowly seat cushion.
Some of them emphasize form over function as the digital health technology is still being tweaked to deliver accurate results via smartphone medical apps.
Fashionable and wearable health and fitness trackers may be all the rage. But Darma, a small company in the tech accelerator scene, is building something more practical - a smart seat cushion.
As in most “smart” wearable health devices these days, this cushion is embedded with tiny sensors that record data, which is then transmitted wirelessly to a smartphone app.
The Darma cushion has a thin, 1-mm-sized, high-sensitivity, fiber-optic-based sensor that can record even the subtlest of body movements. It can track your:
- Heart rate
- Breathing rate
- Stress level
Data is sent via Bluetooth to the accompanying iOS app. An Android app is in development.
Darma’s website says,
“Sitting is the smoking of our generation”
“the idea behind the Darma is that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health, especially when it comes to poor posture and back problems.”
In a testimonial, Dr. Joan Vernikos, former Director of Life Sciences at NASA, said,
“The DARMA device is non-wearable and non-intrusive, unlike most of today’s health-monitoring techniques. By sitting on the DARMA cushion, it captures the information in the most relevant situation - sitting.”
More than taking vital signs while you are seated, the wearable health device offers actionable information based on the data it collects.
For example, if you have been sitting for a long while, it would remind you to stand up and stretch. If you are slouching, leaning back, forward or sideways, it warns you to sit up straight to prevent back pain.
Office workers who remain seated for long hours may be the obvious target market for such a device. But the Darma device’s creators are also aware of the high stress levels in an office environment. So they incorporated functions to help workers de-stress.
For instance, when the device detects that you are stressed, it prompts you to calm down and relax. It guides you through a “meditation minute” session when you
“follow your breath and Darma adjusts the meditation according to your vital signs.”
The medical app displays real-time data, as well as generates reports covering your progress over a period of time.
According to Darma, the cushion’s built-in battery lasts for a month on a single charge.
According to a product demo, other modes for “work-life balance” include:
- Reduce back pain
- Get inner peace
- Better productivity
- Reduce stress
- A customizable mode that lets you define your own usage and settings.
The device is launching on Kickstarter this June, with early birds getting a $100 discount off the retail price, set at $249 when it retails at the end of the year.
Instead of pricey wearable health devices, office workers and the rest of us who sit for longer periods of time than we are supposed to can get this simple cushion to complement our favorite seat.
A practical solution to get us moving, instead of slowly killing ourselves by sitting.