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The influence of active seating on car passengers' perceived comfort and activity levels

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Author: Hiemstra-van Mastrigt, S. · Kamp, I. · Veen, S.A.T. van · Vink, P. · Bosch, T.
Source:Applied Ergonomics, 47, 211-219
Identifier: 521639
doi: doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2014.10.004
Keywords: Workplace · Passenger comfort · Seating · Vehicle interior · Electromyography · Health risks · Muscle · Activity levels · Comfort perception · Driving test · Light intensity · Muscle activities · Passenger comfort · Seating · Seating systems · Transportation · Adult · Body movement · Body posture · Car driving · Comfort · Controlled study · Female · Health hazard · Heart rate · Human · Human experiment · Male · Muscle contraction · Normal human · Perception · Physical activity · Play · Reading · Recreation · Resting heart rate · Seat · Sendentary lifestyle · Task performance · Trapezius muscle · Wellbeing · Work environment · Work and Employment · Healthy Living · Life · SP - Sustainable Productivity and Employability · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


New technologies have led to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Sedentary behaviour is characterised by physical inactivity and is associated with several health risks. This excessive sitting does not only take place in the office or at home, but also during daily commute. Therefore, BMW AG developed an active seating system for the back seat of a car, consisting of sensors in the back rest that register upper body movements of the passenger, with which the passenger controls a game. This study evaluated three different aspects of active seating compared to other tasks (reading, working on laptop, and gaming on tablet). First, discomfort and comfort perception were measured in a 30-minute driving test. Discomfort was very low for all activities and participants felt significantly more challenged, more fit and more refreshed during active seating. Second, heart rate was measured, indicating a light intensity, but nevertheless non-sedentary, activity. Third, average and variability in activity of six postural muscles was measured by electromyography (EMG), showing a higher muscle activity and higher muscle variability for active seating compared to other activities. Active seating might stimulate movements, thereby increasing comfort and well-being.