Researchers have created a prototype armchair designed to take care of the elderly by giving them health and fitness advice … and even a workout. Developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) in Germany, the GEWOS…armchair looks like an ordinary, comfortable chair. The difference is that it contains sensors built into the seat cushions, backrest and armrest that measure the heartbeat and oxygen saturation of the seated person, along with an integrated rowing machine that can get you exercising on the spot.
Sven Feilner, from the Image Processing and Medical Technology Department at IIS, says that using the GEWOS “fitness assistant” is simple – just sit down, relax and put your hands on the sensors…“The sensors are integrated into the chair,’’ Feilner says. “You just have to lay down your hands on the armchair and you will get the data of ECG, heart rate or oxygen saturation…”
A tablet attached to the chair wirelessly transmits data on pulse rate, blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure and weight to a TV so trends can be viewed over time. There’s also a “virtual health assistant” which analyzes the data and suggests tailored exercise plans.
“The fitness assistant gets all the data from the chair and the person sitting there so it can figure if there are any problems,’’ Feilner says. “It can motivate them to exercise rowing using the in-built machine, or go out and take a walk around the block.”
Feilner says the chair…was specifically designed for senior citizens to keep them active and healthy in their own homes, prevent disease and monitor health…“It has the function of primary prevention and it also motivates them to do more exercises,’’ he says. ”Senior citizens should be able to get around independently in their own four walls as long as possible. For that to succeed they have to stay healthy. The exercise armchair gives them an easy and motivating way to stay fit…“
Researchers are continuing to fine-tune the capabilities of the fitness assistant chair. “It needs further work,’’ Feilner says. “The next step will be an evaluation with the elderly so that they can test it in normal circumstances and we can figure out if there is anything we have forgotten and identify any problems.”
I can think of two things missing: a built-in remote for the TV…and easy access to beer.