Webcam to Computer Users: Sit up Straight!

Stop slouching and check this out: Researchers have developed a way for desktop webcams to keep an eye on office workers' posture while they are using computers.

A multidisciplinary team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel has described their work, designed to cut down on musculoskeletal disorders, in the journal Applied Ergonomics. That publication, in fact, features a number of articles on ergonomics issues involving use of computer technologies, including smartphones and other mobile devices.

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The Ben-Gurion study involved 60 office workers, who were shown proper sitting posture and then given frequent feedback while working via webcam images comparing proper posture vs. the worker's current sitting position. The office training resulted in improved posture, but the webcam method involving software installed on workers' machines resulted in more sustained improvement.

Older workers and women proved most responsive to the webcam method.

The researchers recommended that employers implement such a photo-based reinforcement system to help employees and cut down on health issues that can cost employers big insurance bucks.

The research team included representatives from the school's information systems engineering, women's health, occupational health, orthopedic surgery departments. Israel's Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor funded the study.

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