This was my second Make-A-Thon in IDEO, London. This is a great opportunity to explore new concepts and try out new technologies. Always with an eclectic bunch and never a dull moment.

“Team Zen” were assigned the brief to explore how we can be more aware of our most productive phases as we work and how to avoid becoming stagnant, distracted or have bad posture as we sit at our desks for a considerable amount of time.

With the help of NeuroSky brain monitoring headset (yes – with fluffy ears that moved as your alpha-waves changed), we were able to plot your most productive state alongside what programmes you were using. It was interesting to see how short our attention-spans were, or perhaps this was just the chaos of two days of high-speed prototyping!

The second part of the project was to encourage better posture – and so be more conducive to better working or ‘flow’ as it is refereed to by the like of Mihal Csikszentmihalyi (check out his talk on Flow).

We created an indicator on the back of your office chair for others to monitor your Flow/need for a break. The solution consisted of a wheel which changed colour to express your posture. As you leaned forward too much – this was deemed bad posture and the dial would go from green/yellow to red. If you straightened up again – it could go back to green. (This was done using a proximity sensor and accelerometers). However, if you persisted in poor posture and little movement (i.e. becoming stagnant) – the arrow would switch from Flow-State (infinity symbol) to warning others that you needed a Cuppa! WHen you returned to your chair, the whole thing would reset. Arguably this is a little simplistic, but it illustrated a point quite well and sparked numerous discussions about hw it could be developed further…

In case you were interested in the guts of this gizmo – we popped the bonnet for you. Behold the madness!

Be sure to check out what other teams came up with here:

Haiyan Zhang, OpenIDEO Design & Development Lead, IDEO
Sinead Mac Manus, Director, 8fold
Tim Burrell-Saward, 3D designer & maker
Nathan Maton, OpenIDEO Community Manager, IDEO
Felix Reiners, IDEO