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David Zax

A View from David Zax

A Monitor that Worries About Your Posture

A new sensor-embedded monitor from Philips does just that.

  • April 13, 2012

If you’re anything like me, your increasingly computerized life has wreaked havoc on your posture. If only I were more muscular, I could have been the model for that poster that parodies Darwin’s Ascent of Man: hunched over a computer like a chimpanzee.

Thankfully, Philips is coming to my–to our–rescue. The company is putting out a desktop display called the ErgoSensor Monitor, reports Wired. Using a built-in CMOS sensor and software from DigitalOptics, the ErgoSensor Monitor detects whether you’re slouching, and whether you’re sitting too close to, or too far from, the monitor. Then, just like we want our technology to do, it chastises you.

The monitor also sports something Philips terms, semi-illegibly, the SmartErgoBase. “The user-friendly height, swivel, tilt and rotation angle adjustments of the base allow the monitor to be positioned for maximum comfort to help ease the physical strains of a long workday,” says Philips. It would be very annoying indeed if your monitor were to chew you out for improper screen positioning, only to be unyielding when you sought to alter that positioning.

There are a few other features worth noting in the Philips monitor. Computer monitors are prime offenders in the “vampire electronics” category–devices that, even when they’re not being used, still draw down bits of power. Philips promises the monitor has a “0 watt hard switch” that, when you flip that sucker, causes the monitor to consume no power whatsoever.

As annoyed as I am by monitors that draw down power when not needed, I’m equally annoyed by monitors that power down of their own accord when I’m still using them. I happen to be a slow reader, so whether I’m on my iPhone or MacBook, I’ll often linger on a webpage without scrolling for a minute or more. My devices, despite having known me for some years, haven’t figured out my reading habits yet, so they are always dimming themselves right when I was in the middle of a juicy sentence. The same thing will often happen to me when I’m streaming movies, and while I could go into my display settings to override the sleep mode, it would be annoying to do that before and after every movie I watch online.

Here’s where sensor technology like the ErgoSensor Monitor comes in handy. It detects when you’re there, and when you aren’t. If you walk away, it powers down; if you approach, just the opposite. Clever!

And now that I’ve drummed up your excitement, here’s where I let you down: the monitor’s only available in Europe for now, where it’s selling for about $375. Philips hasn’t announced a US release date yet, so if you’re eager for an ErgoSensor but live stateside, start lobbying Philips–or applying for a job abroad.

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