By Zak Stone
An ergonomics expert and high-end furniture designer have teamed up to bring office workers a workstation they're calling the healthiest way to link the human body with computers "until the computer becomes a part of our body." Now, they're asking supporters to bring the project to fruition through a DIY crowdsourcing campaign that's eschewing Kickstarter in favor of an initiative hosted on the company's website.
According to XTensionDesk creator Craig Dye, the product provides a new level of flexibility for the computer user, who can use it to work while standing, sitting, or reclining. The workstation is being released at a time when article after article points to the worse-than-we-could've-imagined health consequences of an overly sedentary lifestyle, which researchers believe decreases life expectancy and increases the risk of obesity, while computer use is linked with the rising rate of repetitive strain injuries.
Dye says that even ergonomic desks tend to position people in a "rigidly upright" posture for the whole day. "But that's just as bad as bad posture because you can't just stay in one posture all day. We have 600 muscles and 200 joints in our body. We're made to move. We should have a workspace that works with us as we feel we need to."
Even making little one- or two-inch adjustments can help, he says, which is the point of departure for the XTensionDesk's design. Altering one's posture is simple: users just grab the stand for the monitor or keyboard to pull it into place, whether they're standing up tall or reclining back. (Check out their fantastically cheesy video to see it in action.) That ease encourages people to make regular adjustments, unlike other adjustable stations which rely on pedals or buttons and are harder or slower to use, says Dye. Other features include the ability to balance up to three monitors and accommodate a wide diversity of bodies, from children's to those of people with disabilities.
Dye is teaming up with industrial designer Manuel Saez--known for his work on a variety of ergonomic products--to help complete the design and bring the product to market. Interestingly, Dye is hoping to use crowdfunding for the final stage of the project, by reaching out to physical therapists, occupational therapists, and chiropractors, who can pre-order the desk for $900 and resell it at a markup. "It's a little bit of a quirky application for Kickstarter," says Dye, citing the high cost of the desk, which led him to host the crowdfunding through his own site.
"If we can prove this model then it opens the door for a lot of other companies," says Dye, who might be 90 percent of the way there, and "then they need to close with that last amount to get to market." More than a month into the crowdfunding campaign, they need to pre-sell 282 units to make the project a reality.
Copyright 2012 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.