A network of lightweight interfaces has been stuck to my back for the past few weeks, receiving information about the slightest movement of my spine. My new Herman Miller Embody chair is like an exoskeleton, supplementing my body's own structural integrity. While I sit and blog about our future space exploration, it's awesome to have a high-tech command chair. Click through for chair spoilers. Okay, so not really spoilers. But here's all the dirt on the Herman Miller Embody chair. We wrote about it a while back, and Herman Miller was nice enough to send us a sample for review purposes. Since I have been sitting in the same office chair for 10 years (which I bought on sale at Office Depot for like $50) I had been trying to figure out how much blood plasma I would have to sell to get a nice new chair. So yay!
As we wrote before, it has this weird-looking and awesome network of high-tech springs in the back which adjust to the shape of your back. Not just lumbar support — which is super important — but upper back support as well. It sort of "floats" behind me, as I lean back and tilt forwards. Whenever I sit more upright, it feels like it's slotting into place behind me. (You can also adjust it so that it doesn't tilt, or tilts less.) The chair has about five hundred levers and knobs, one of which has a knob joystick inside the knob. You can adjust the position fo the springy things on the back, how much it tilts, how high the arms are and how far apart they are, how long the seat is (for people with longer thighs), and other stuff. Instead of sliding the seat up and down, you actually adjust how fat the seat is. To be honest, when I first got the chair, I spent about an hour fiddling with all the knobs and adjusting it, and since then I haven't touched it much. Except to tinker obsessively with the thigh-length thing. And supposedly it improves blood flow ("perfusion") all over my body. Dude! The Embody is made according to green "cradle to cradle" standards, and meanwhile the company has a new site where you can post your own ideas for fixing the environment. Thoughtpile.org is sort of a social media site for green ideas, and the submissions vary from the no-duh (carbon taxes) to the wha-huh? (jewelry that stores solar power.) In any case, if you have $1600 laying around, you should totally get one of these chairs. It feels like a huge advance, even on the Aeron chairs I've sat in a few times. It's totally futuristic. It reminds me of several years ago, when I was writing about ergonomics for a local newspaper and I interviewed one of the set designers for the 1990s Star Trek shows. We talked all about the clunky, non-ergonomic chairs the original Trek bridge crew sat in, and how much nicer and more comfortable the chairs on the TNG bridge were. (Plus the TNG consoles have nice curved surfaces.) This feels more like a Next-Gen bridge chair and less like a TOS bridge chair, if you see what I mean.