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Fancy Chair Maker Herman Miller Is Making Creepy Software Now

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Do you ever sit down at your desk and wonder why the elevated surface doesn’t have more sensors to record and analyze data about your movements and habits? Well, wonder no more, my ergonomically-minded friend. Herman Miller, the manufacturer behind the Aeron chair, has invented a solution to the problem you never knew existed.

That solution is a new system called Live OS. The software platform will soon connect an entire family of Herman Miller furniture with built-in infrared sensors and networking capabilities to monitor how your ass interacts with the places you park it. The illustrious global design manufacturer will also let you retrofit older Herman Miller pieces with sensors, and it will sell you an annual subscription to the cloud-based Live OS service for just $36 (or $60 if you have a sit/stand desk).


On the one hand, Live OS sounds potentially useful. The new system collects data so that it knows the precise height you like for sit/stand and lets you change positions by waving your hand in front of the sensor. The sensors will also buzz and light up when it’s time for you to change positions. There’s even a dashboard that will let you look at your movement patterns so, I guess, you can know when you’re laziest. Additionally, Herman Miller will release a new connected Aeron chair in January that will monitor your posture and suggest more ergonomic sitting positions.


But you know what’s kind of creepy about the whole proposition? The entire Live OS experience is designed so that employers can keep track of their employees better. Whether it’s for productivity stuff (like making work stations healthier) or surveillance stuff (like using sensors mounted on desks to track how workers walk around), this whole connected office furniture idea seems less like a fun, Jetsons-inspired future and more like a no fun, George Orwell-inspired future.

People do love their fitness trackers, though. In a sense, Herman Miller’s new Live OS is a fitness tracker for your furniture. If you or your employer are willing to spend what will surely be many thousands of dollars on this new connected furniture system, you might see some added convenience. Your boss will also be able to figure out when people are at their desks, how they’re sitting, when they’re standing, and when they walk away. Doesn’t that sound innovative?

[Herman Miller via Wired]