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“In my 28 years of attending the CES and participating in it and being a part of it and running it for most of that time, I can honestly say there will be more innovation at this show than any one in history,” Gary Shapiro said.   (President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association on CNN.com )

The clock is ticking…the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens in only 3 days.   The annual Bacchanalia of gadget freaks, tech-heads and gamers, CES new product REVEALS will dominate newswires for the next few weeks.  You, the global consumer, will be inundated with marketing messages that promise tools and technology that improve your life, your work, make you a better person (LOL).  

Our ERGOLAB team is a skeptical bunch. Ergonomists tend to view words like innovation a little suspiciously. It doesn’t promise improvement within an existing paradigm; only something new.  History shows us that it’s the exceptional brand that takes human ERGONOMIC needs into consideration when developing a new product.

When wading through CES RSS feeds, use caution, many of the products will fail to live up to a simple Ergonomic Assessment.   Our ERGOLAB team will be evaluating some of the new computing and communication tools; we will share our thoughts on this blog.

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Growing up in Western PA and West Virginia; most living rooms or dens showcased at least one, maybe two recliners.  Much loved, the right to sit in these thrones was dictated by the family hierarchy; think Archie Bunker. When Archie got home from ‘the plant’, no one had better be sitting in that chair.  

If you were very lucky, your recliners were tricked out with all the bells and whistles. Full recline with footrest, heat, maybe massage (in those days vibration) and a pocket to hold the TV Guide on the side. The chair was covered in plush upholstery or corduroy or faux leather; real leather was the exception, not the rule.  Neighbors and friends with a leather recliner were obviously doing well for themselves. 

My hunch is that the recliner explosion coincided with the space race; NASA research found that in zero gravity, the human body rests most comfortably in a reclined posture – hips and knees open beyond 120 degrees.   Astronauts (the reality TV stars of the 60’s and 7o’s) were strapped into their spacecraft in the reclining position.  If it works for them, it works for home. 

 I have to be honest, I hated those chairs.  I thought they were ugly and unsightly.  How humbling now, especially given our ERGONOMICS  focus here at ERGOLAB, to realize that La-Z-Boy and Barcalounger had it right all along.  Human Factors experts agree that the most comfortable long-term body posture is the recline position.  

Why am I thinking about this? 

Just came across this link to CORE77 article which details a research project  from the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) , sponsored by Freescale Semiconductors.   The research initiative had a VERY broad scope, however, as an ergonomist, one particular category of learning jumped out at me. 

A group of students investigated the physical ergonomics within this age group, especially concerning the use of smaller devices. They discovered that a conventional small clamshell laptop is most comfortably used lying down in bed with the device on the thigh when the knees are kept up.

Once again, the RECLINE position.  Don’t know if sound Ergonomic principles in design were what drove La-Z-Boy and Barcalounger, but I am willing to admit it when I am wrong. 

http://www.core77.com/blog/featured_items/case_study_freescale_netbook_design_at_scad_by_dave_malouf_14241.asp

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