A Swiss start-up is hoping to offer relief to workers who are required to stand for long hours with its invention – the Chairless Chair, a patent-pending mobile exoskeleton weighing just 2kg that can be worn on the hips and thighs.
The idea is that people can run and walk while wearing the aluminium and carbon fibre frame. When the user presses the button, the contraption will touch the ground and a mechanism will cause it to stiffen, turning the frame into an instant chair.
"The idea came from wanting to sit anywhere and everywhere, and from working in a UK packaging factory when I was 17," CEO and co-founder of noonee Keith Gunura, 29, told CNN.
"Standing for hours on end causes a lot of distress to lower limbs, but most workers get very few breaks and chairs are rarely provided, because they take up too much space. So I thought that the best idea was to strap an unobtrusive chair directly to myself."
The stiffening mechanism in the device is powered by a single 6V battery, which lasts for 24 hours. There is also another version of the contraption that comes with boots strapped to it, so that the frame doesn't need to even touch the floor.
Besides offering the user a seat, the exoskeleton is also able to improve the user's posture while they are standing.
"In addition to resting your leg muscles, it also provides optimal posture," said noonee CTO and co-founder Bryan Anastisiades.
"It keeps your back straight and can reduce the occurrence of bad postures for both healthy workers and those recovering from muscle related injuries."
The Chairless Chair is based on research by the Bio-inspired Robotics laboratory at ETH Zurich, and has already won four different prizes in venture funding competitions for start-ups, including being nominated as one of the top 20 most innovative and economically promising innovations in Switzerland.
In September, car manufacturer BMW is to start trialling the device with its production line workers in Germany, followed by Audi before the end of the year.