If you are reading this article at your desk, are you sitting or standing? Is your back straight? Are you warm or cold, and is your environment bright enough?
Many of us spend the majority of our working lives at a desk, with studies revealing that too many hours in front of a screen is detrimental to our long-term health. Now, work is underway to develop an artificial intelligence-driven workstation that adjusts to a person’s preferences and habits with the aim of avoiding potential health issues.
The problem with workstations
It is already well known that workstations can trigger a variety of health problems, from carpal tunnel syndrome caused by continuous typing to longer-term cardiovascular issues due to prolonged sitting. As a BBC article points out, this sedentary way of working is a relatively new phenomenon. There has been a lot of progress in making workstations more ergonomic, including adjustable monitors and chairs and stand-up desks to encourage more movement. In the world of occupational health Bristol has experts who can assess such issues and offer solutions.
Everyone’s needs are different, which means a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution is never going to be completely successful. One option is to employ external consultants. If you need to consult an expert in occupational health Bristol has specialists who can balance business needs and employee wellbeing. Another option is to look at the advantages AI can offer.
How can AI help?
There are already smart desks available with integrated touchscreens that connect to other technology, such as smartphones, and offer sitting and standing positions to allow flexibility and help posture. Some workstations go even further, providing the ability to configure heating and lighting and reminding the user to change their position and even to stay hydrated.
There is also ongoing research into the inclusion of heat and light sensors that will truly tailor the immediate environment to the needs of the employee. However ergonomic the workstation, people have a tendency to lapse into old habits. If the AI can learn what the user needs in particular situations – for example, they need more warmth when the building’s air conditioning is on high or they need dimmer lighting first thing in the morning – this can pre-empt problems and change ingrained behaviour. In turn, this can lead to healthier and more productive employees.