Suomi-Soffa together with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed an intelligent sofa with integrated sensors, which allow the monitoring of the wellbeing of sofa’s user. The intelligent sofa, which will be showcased at Habitare 2010 fair this autumn, has been designed to meet the needs of solitary elders.
Sensors, which recognize movements, and their system unit have been installed in the sofa’s frame for the purpose of transmitting real-time information on the sofa’s use for instance to the family of the elderly person. The computerized system indicates whether the person is lying down or seated, or whether he has possibly tilted forward in a way in which his back does not touch the back rest. With personal user names and passwords the family members are able to monitor the elderly person’s movements, and even entire movement sequences. The caretakers can also subscribe to a mobile alarm, which is activated for instance in case the sofa user has not moved for a few hours.
The sofa has been designed to have a perfectly ordinary outward appearance, and the user does not feel the sensors when seated on it.
– We seek to come up with solutions, which help to remove anxiety. When aging persons’ functional abilities weaken their activities and movements can be monitored with this reasonably simple application, explains Sauli Kivikunnas, Research Scientist at VTT.
The development work of the intelligent sofa was launched in 2006 as a result of customer feedback received by Suomi-Soffa. Consumers were asking for more developed cushioning for elderly people who sit a lot. VTT joined the company’s quest in finding a solution for the demand.
Suomi-Soffa trusts that the intelligent sofa has the potential of becoming a mass product when the baby boom generation retires. The company’s goal is to expand its range of intelligent furniture later on also for institutional and care purposes. Development work on a similar range of intelligent beds is already underway.
The intelligent sofa project has also been linked to security wristbands, which can be linked together with furniture equipped with sensors.
– The linking of different devices to the wider system enables the optimization of their different properties. We are also in the process of developing future ideas for enhancing the sofa’s attributes. Such extra features include for instance additional sensors measuring body temperature and heartbeat, tells Kivikunnas.