My mother is no longer around to correct my bad posture, but I may have found a digital substitute. After a few minutes of leaning back in my desk chair or hunching over my keyboard, I feel a vibration in my midsection. It’s not my phone vibrating, it’s Darma, the world’s first smart cushion, telling me to sit up straight by delivering a literal kick in the butt.
You know those apps and devices that periodically tell you to stand up, walk around or stretch you limbs? Darma does all of that working with their companion app and a very comfortable cushion to sit on as well. The cushion and app know when your posture is bad and when you’ve been sitting too long and it lets you know with a notification on your phone and buzz on your backside.
The sample cushion that Darma sent me arrived in a well-padded box that contained the cushion, a charging cable and a travel bag. The cushion has a soft ventilated leather surface with a power button and USB socket built into one side. The cushion is relatively thin and light weight, considering what it is and what it does exactly, as well as appears to be very well put together.
I connected the USB cable to charge the cushion while I downloaded and installed the Darma app from the Google Play Store. Darma also has an app in the Apple Store for those of you who are using iOS. I created a personal account with the Darma app and used Bluetooth to link the app to the cushion. This is where I had a bit of a problem at first as I couldn’t get the cushion to pair with my device. However, my Darma rep had told me they had just had an update to the app and this might happen. I contacted her and within hours she had things fixed and I was up and running.
The Darma cushion is designed to work with weights between 90 and 260 pounds. The battery is supposed to last about 15 days – that was consistent with my experience, and it shuts off if you don’t use it for three days. A lighted ring around the power button notes when the cushion battery is low and when the device is connected or disconnected to the Darma app.
Once the app and cushion were talking to each other, the Darma system began tracking my sitting experience. It knows when I lean left or right, forward or backward, and when I stand up. Fiber-optic sensors embedded in the cushion also track my heart rate and breathing and use the metrics to determine my current level of stress. It’s simply amazing how far technology has come for us to be told things like that just by sitting on a simple cushion.
Unfortunately Darma doesn’t have a smartwatch specific app for neither Android or iOS. This could be very handy to have instead of having to look at everything on your mobile device. To be able to look at your wrist, do a couple of swipe motions and view all the information you wanted or needed would add so much more to Darma in a lot of ways.
Darma can easily monitor and coach you on your posture and it starts doing this immediately after you turn it on, set it up and put into your chair. Darma will remind you to sit properly if you’re leaning forward or sitting incorrectly and it will also let you know when you need to get up and stretch. Not only will it remind you when you need to get up and stretch, but it provides you with stretching guides which can and effectively will relieve your back, neck and shoulder strain that you might be experiencing.
On top of all those things mentioned above, the Darma app is smart enough to take all of this information and even remind you when to relax or when to take a deep breath so that you have a better overall sitting experience which is important if you sit and sit for long hours at a time.
Overall I’m very impressed with what Darma can and does do. It gives me all sorts of helpful information not only about my posture but simple health related statistics as well and this is important especially for those that love to monitor things like this. Throw in the fact that Darma is simply comfortable and you don’t feel as if you’re sitting on a smart cushion that you know has all sorts of technology in it.
For a price of $199 it seems a bit expensive but in the end it can definitely help you sit better. For those of us like myself who sit in a computer style chair all day to work from, this is important as Darma does indeed give you a nudge as to when you should get up and stretch and take a couple minutes break time from sitting. For me this is by far the biggest and most important feature/option of the Darma smart cushion as I tend to sit in my chair for hours and hours on end at times without ever getting up until I absolutely need to.