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Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
It takes a toll.
EXTRA LIFE

IKEA is designing customizable ergonomic chairs for the world’s most extreme sitters

By Anne Quito

Gamers, relief for your aching backs is in sight.

For the world’s most extreme sitters, IKEA is developing a new ergonomic chair specifically designed for long stretches playing video games. With e-sports legend Tommy Ingemarsson in attendance in Älmhult, Sweden today, IKEA’s design lead Marcus Engman showed off a prototype that promises to relieve back aches and cramps for gamers who spend up to 20 hours sitting in front of a screen.

At its annual IKEA Democratic Days press event, the Swedish furniture giant revealed its collaboration with the San Francisco-based prosthetics firm UNYQ to develop the “Ubik” chair. Using 3D printing and body-scanning technology developed for medical wearables, they set out to create the most comfortable and affordable seating solution for gamers on the market. The key, Engman explains, is personalization.

IKEA
Gamers were in the spotlight at IKEA’s Democratic Design Days 2018.

The idea is that that customers can get their body scanned when they purchase the Ubik at IKEA stores. In about two weeks, 3D printed inserts based on the customer’s biometric data will arrive in the mail. These lattice inserts slide into the seat and prop sitters up in the ideal posture. (The IKEA prototype shown today was just the seat, without a backrest.)  Getting a buttocks scan at IKEA may well also appeal to sedentary office workers desperate for ergonomic seating solutions.

IKEA

“Gamers are an extreme use case. They’re athletes, they’re competing with their minds and their bodies,” says Ingemarsson, as he tested the prototype on stage. “I think bringing this type of personalization to fit unique ergonomic needs, body types and modes of play will give somebody a healthier life and a better competitive advantage.”

 

Beyond gaming and e-sports enthusiasts, Engman sees great promise in exploring mass customization—a growing trend in other industries, including sneakers, and one that could radically change IKEA’s vast supply chain.

“To be able to personalize ergonomics for each and every person—that’s a gigantic possibility,” says Engman. “To get the factories out to people, not bringing things from factories to people, that’s a completely different outlook in product development and design for the future.”