High-tech sensors are everywhere. They alert us to spoiled food. They monitor our stress levels. And they’re blowing up in the health and fitness space, too, helping us track our key sleep and activity metrics.
And now we have the Philips ErgoSensor Monitor, a desktop display that keeps an eye on one’s posture.
The 24-inch LCD monitor uses a built-in CMOS sensor to determine your distance from the screen and your neck angle while sitting. The monitor works with software made by DigitalOptics Corporation, and, like a worried mother, will remind you to straighten your back, keep your distance from the display, and take breaks from sitting at the computer.
According to Philips, the sensor measures your inter-pupillary distance—the distance between two pupils—to determine whether you’re sitting at an optimal distance from the monitor. The system can also sense if your neck is inclined at a poor ergonomic angle, and will give you corrective feedback showing you the ideal angle position. And if you’ve been sitting for too long, the built-in software will remind you to get up to take a break.
We haven’t seen a Philips ErgoSensor monitor in action yet, but if it does what it says, it could be valuable for consumers wanting a more ergonomic workstation.
"It’s an interesting concept and it certainly provides a potential value for timing and alerting people to take a break," David Rempel, Director of the Ergonomics Program at UC Berkeley and Professor of Medicine at UCSF, told Wired. "It may have value in terms of posture depending on how it measures neck angle and distance from the screen."
The design of the monitor itself is also ergonomically friendly. Philips dubs the base "The SmartErgoBase" as it can be lowered to almost desk level, and allows users to tilt, rotate, swivel, and make angle adjustments to the screen.
This is an important feature to include in the monitor, Rempel says: "We know that if a monitor is set too high or too low, and a person has to work with their head in extension, it can lead to neck pain." Rempel advises people to set their monitors so that it is at a 10- to 20-degree angle below the horizon of their eyes.
The eco-concsious can rest easy with this monitor, too. When you walk away from the screen, it will automatically detect that you’re no longer present and power itself down. The device is also made out of 65 percent recycled plastics, and comes with a 0-watt hard switch that lets you cut power completely off from the monitor for zero power consumption.
The monitor is available in the EU for 285 euros. The company has not yet released a launch date or price for the United States.