The Brief

Micah Reid
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The Biofeedback Posture Chair is, as the name implies, a chair that not only encourages good posture, but also gives live feedback through a "companion app" developed for the iPhone. It does this using pressure sensors located inside hard foam padding.

Our intention was to hack furniture from IKEA, adding new functionality, either smart or physical. After several different ideas in similar veins, we decided we wanted to pursue a biofeedback device and eventually landed upon the idea of a chair that would detect posture.

In our first brainstorm, we had plans to attach a lightbulb in the style of a reading chair, and only decided until much later in the project that we wouldn’t have time to add that functionality in during the studio. Our first prototypes were both scaled down cardboard models of our chair. We were just getting a feel for the layout of our chair and where different parts would be positioned.

We then dove into software. Our first software iteration was a simple processing/arduino code that checked the pressure of each sensor showed pressure individually through brightness of the color. We then averaged those out into a fourth color. We later used this mainly for debugging purposes. The next step was to create a user interface for the iPhone after a couple of designs we landed upon one with a simple apple health-inspired UI. We made a design in Sketch and then actually started the programming process in Swift using Xcode. By the end we had a fully functional iPhone app that graphed all user input. 

When we finally received the chair and assembled it, we could move on to creating our final product. We opted for a harder foam to preserve the sensors’ readings and added a very thin layer of squishy foam to give a better contact with the sensor, giving more sensitive feedback.

In the end we had a project that both was functional, and had real world applications. Hopefully in the future we can continue work and find a way to get this technology to the public.