Herman Miller’s Aeron chair is a fixture in office work environments. When it launched in 1994, it was nothing short of revolutionary. Now Herman Miller is trying to transform the rest of the workspace, because from cubicles to open-plan shared workspaces, the office is ever-evolving. Employers are hungry for new and tech-forward ways to keep their employees healthier, happier and ultimately more productive.

Herman Miller’s new Live OS smart office furniture uses sensors to relay exactly how a workspace is being used. The cloud-connected furnishings, starting with a desk and a chair, are designed to connect workplaces for the benefit of employees’ wellbeing. The furniture, an app and dashboard all come together to create more personalized workspaces while at the same time offering data for companies to learn from.

The system could be extremely useful for startups and other companies that don’t assign every worker a personal desk. For employees the system almost functions like a fitness monitor of sorts encouraging you to get up, raise your desk to stand at, and change your posture.

Live OS partners include Fuseproject (user experience and desk controller), OST (analytics and cloud infrastructure), Dynastream (ANT Protocol mesh network), Universal Mind (app design), and Twisthink (hardware and software for data collection and transmission).

Herman Miller will also sell Live OS sensors separately, for around $100, to retrofit existing furniture.

The furniture and subscription service to run it all doesn’t come cheap — the software costs about $36 per desk per year, according to Quartz.

I for one, would love to have my chair keep my posture in line and raise my desk automatically when I stand, but I’m not sure I’m ready to turn over so much data to an employer.


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