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Herman Miller launches furniture sensors for the office

Do the benefits outweigh the creepiness factor?

Herman Miller sit-stand desk All photos courtesy of Herman Miller

Herman Miller has joined the office tech surveillance movement by unveiling Live OS, a line of fancy Yves Béhar-designed furniture sensors connected to the cloud. The devices collect data about how desks and office areas are being used by employees and sends it to a dashboard so building managers can “enhance workplace performance.”

The implication is that a company will be able to use this info to redesign their offices according to the needs of staff—say, swapping out that underused cubicle farm for a work lounge with more conference rooms—all outfitted Herman Miller furniture, natch.

At least there’s little fear the devices and data will be hacked: Sensor data is transmitted over a private cell network and anonymized before it’s provided to management.

The sensors can be used to retrofit existing furniture pieces but are also built directly into the company’s sit-stand desks, where they perform such amazing feats as “remembering” a user’s preferred height and vibrating like a smartphone to remind the user to switch positions.

All this fanciness costs a pretty penny. Individual sensors have a $100 price tag, and the software costs $36 per desk per year. The app that accompanies the sit-stand desks will set companies back $60 per desk per year.