Anyone who has sat at a desk for more than several hours at a time will be unpleasantly familiar with the lethal triad of: the sore back, rounding beneath the weight of deadlines and paperwork; the hunched-up shoulders nearing one’s ears; and, worst of all, the aching neck, too stiff to turn a full one-hundred-and-eighty degrees left-to-right. Such afflictions are seemingly impossible to prevent or rid ourselves of once they’ve decided to strike – regardless of how much hope we pinned on that swanky height-adjustable standing desk from Ikea. Despite this and the other ‘answers’ to the issue, such as the Upright Go and even a posture support bra, a lot of us are still plagued by the same-old aches and pains; the market is far from closed in regard to devices that might vanquish our workplace demons.
At least, that seems to be the ethic of the team behind Giiro. The pioneers of the ‘Posturebot’ (which could easily have been cast as an extra in the 2008 film WALL-E) and its accompanying floor-mat are marketing the two together on ‘Kickstarter’ as the ultimate solution to a problem that, thus far, few others have been able to crack.
This is how Giiro works: rather than intervening after we’ve contracted a bad back, the technology is preventative in nature. The Giiro mat (nothing fancy in terms of appearance, resembling a dark, spongy Wii Fit board) is designed to be used with a standing desk, given that its function is to measure the distribution of downward pressure from the feet. Cleverly, the mat syncs the data it collects with the Giiro smartphone app, which proceeds to supply ‘highly accurate feedback’ about posture and weight distribution. Alternatively, and more expensively, one could invest in the aforementioned Posturebot, a quirky, scarcely-believable robot that seems to have absorbed the bulk of the committee’s creative energies. It utilises both Alexa’s cloud service and voice, comes in two colours (the yellow version confoundingly easy to mistake for a Minion) and retails for $238 on its own. The audacious little bot replicates the user’s posture and audibly rebukes us if we, for example, dare to cross our legs or displace our centre of gravity – all the while flashing us a strong dosage of side-eye from across the room. Perhaps, if one becomes tired of being snapped at by a small, unliving object, the feature to convert Giiro into a speaker might suddenly become that much more attractive.
As imaginative as it sounds, Giiro has not received a great deal of financial backing – as of 17 July, with only eighteen days left to raise over £15,000, the project has received less than half of that sum in donations. Perhaps Giiro’s chief flaw is that the bot-and-mat twosome just aren’t necessary products. If an irksomely-voiced bot orders us to stand up taller, who’s to say that we will listen? We already have the faculties to realise when our posture is bad, and can choose to modify our stance if we please. For Giiro to become a successful product, it must offer potential customers something more than it does – perhaps a device that is wearable would yield greater utility, as opposed to a disruptive bot that might perturb colleagues working in our proximity. Until then, a few rolls of the neck in the swivel-chair and a return to the Ikea standing-desk are pretty much the best options we have.