A restless interface

A restless interface: the Mouse Chair

mouse chair A restless interface: the mouse-chair (2011~)

A “restless interface” challenges, in a way as subtle as possible, the passive attitude of the computer user. The prototype introduced here detects bad static postures, and produce a subtle feedback which does not interfere with the workflow: the cursor will drift if the person is not sitting up-right in a neutral position.

Summary

The “mouse-chair” is a prototype of what we would call a “restless-interfaces”. The goal of such kind of interface is to challenge, in a way as subtle as possible, the passive attitude of the computer user in an office environment (the interface forces her/him to efectively rest less). This may help mitigate health problems induced by a day-long bad musculoskeletal posture (e.g. carpal syndrome, scoliosis, etc.) without prompting the user to explicitly exert any physical effort (this constitutes a significant difference between a “restless interface”, and an “exertion interface”). “Restless” conveys here the idea of uncontrolled motion – motion that is under the threshold of consciousness, motion that is the result of some subtle anxiety or discomfort (that can presumably be introduced in a controlled fashion). A restless interface make the user restless only when necessary, thus protecting her from the harmful consequences of a completely static posture.

 

mouse chair Fitts

The prototype introduced here is a chair fitted with sensors (load cells, accelerometers) so that the whole body posture is used to interfere with the movement of the mouse cursor. After calibration, the system is capable of detecting bad static postures, and produce a subtle feedback which does not interfere with the workflow: the cursor will drift if the person is not sitting up-right in a neutral position. It is important to note that even if the usability tests forces us to discard the use of the chair as the pointing mechanism itself, it is always possible to use the information gathered by the chair to interfere with the mouse (by creating subtle drifts that presumably the user will compensate unconsciously by correcting the body posture).