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The Next-Gen Standing Desk

Stir has created a smart standing desk that gently tells you when to stand and when to sit. Will it catch on?

You know that obnoxious guy at the office: the one with the standing desk. He's standing straight amid a sea of slumped bodies, typing away. What a jerk.

Well, that standing desk could prolong his life and promote better health. And a company called Stir has just taken it to the next level with their new smart standing desk, the Kinetic M1. It's the second desk Stir has made, and it's a significant improvement over any sort of "dumb" standing desk you could buy on Amazon. In a nutshell, a sensor in the desk tracks your height, habits, and health. There's a 5-inch LCD touchscreen on the desk for helping you control it and set up your preferences. When it's time to stand up, the desk will "breathe" - a slight movement up and down, about an inch - letting you know to get off your ass. No alarms ringing, no notifications buzzing. From there, you double tap your hand on the built-in screen of the desk and it will rise (or fall, if you're already standing). The desk learns your preferences and can sync with the Bluetooth in a Fitbit you're wearing to automatically turn on when you approach it and track your preferences. 

I had the chance to get a glimpse of this ergonomic miracle at CES earlier this month and chat with Stir CEO JP Labrosse, who was on the team at Apple that designed the original iPod. A mechanical engineer by training, Labrosse sees the new Stir desk as a product that could change the way we work.

"Height adjustable desks have been outselling normal desks four-to-one in commercial markets," he says. "We found that of those desks, about 70% of them sit idle in the seated position all the time. Making changes in our lives is hard. The reason behind this smart desk is to facilitate being more active throughout the day. The results from our first-gen products are really exciting. Our users spend, on average, 50% of the time standing, and 95% of them move every day."

Stir is achieving three times better engagement than traditional standing desks, and the point behind the Kinetic M1 is, as Labrosse says, to make it feel "effortless." But the next step isn't getting these desks into the houses of entrepreneurs, self-employed folks or anti-socials who want to take a stab at healthy livin'. The next step is getting them into your very office. 

"We did a pilot process with six or seven Fortune 500 companies," he says. "Those people really liked the desk, and we asked them, 'If we were to build a desk that would be appropriate for everything, what would it be?' And they gave us a list of requests, and we did everything on that list." 

A small kick in the mouth is the price point: $2,990. But with what you're getting and how sophisticated it is, it's hard to complain. At least to bring it up with your boss. A smart standing desk is a smart move, and likely worth the investment. 

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