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International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET)

Volume 9, Issue 13, December 2018,


201 pp. 45–53, Article ID: IJMET_09_13_006
Available online at http://www.iaeme.com/ijmet/issues.asp?JType=IJMET&VType=9&IType=13
ISSN Print: 0976-6340 and ISSN Online: 0976-6359

© IAEME Publication Scopus Indexed

DESIGN AND FABRICATION


FABRICATION OF AN
AUTOMATED SEAT PAN AND
AND ARMREST
HEIGHT ADJUSTABLE CHAIR
CHAIR
Mona Sahu, Santhiyagu Joseph Vijay, Masepogu Wilson Kumar, Solomon
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences,
Sciences Coimbatore,, India

Darius Gnanaraj
School of Mechanical Engineering, Vellore Institute
Institute of Technology, Vellore, India

ABSTRACT
This research aimed at designing and fabricating an office computer chair which
can automatically adjust the seat pan height
h and armrest height. The data for those
adjustments were based on the user’s anthropometric dimensions.
dimensions. The research aims
aim
at helping the user to maintain neutral seating posture while working on a computer.
An existing office chair was re-engineered with 1 linear actuator on the roller base &
2 linear actuators to actuate the 2 armrests. A coupling was fabricated to house the
bearing and to connect the base actuator to the seat pan. Two supports were
fabricated to house the 2 linear actuators for the armrest.. An RFID reader was used
to read the height from the card and give the input to the microcontroller.
microcontroller The
microcontroller calculated the desired seat pan and armrest height while sending the
signal to the actuator for the desired movement. This was designed designed for Indian
Anthropometric dimensions. The fabricated prototype was tested for its posture
accuracy with human subjects.
subjects. The results proved that the prototype helped the user to
maintain close to neutral posture significantly as compared with manual adjustment of
the chair by the user.
Key words: Smart Chair,, RFID,
RFID Ergonomics, Neutral Posture, Electro--Goniometry.

Cite this Article: Mona Sahu, Santhiyagu Joseph Vijay, Masepogu Wilson Kumar
and Darius Gnanaraj Solomon,
Solomon, Design and Fabrication of An Automated Seat Pan and
Armrest Height Adjustable Chair,
Chair International
ernational Journal of Mechanical Engineering
and Technology,, 9(13), 2018, pp. 45–53.
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Design and Fabrication of An Automated Seat Pan and Armrest Height Adjustable Chair

1. INTRODUCTION
The usage of computer is rapidly growing in recent years. The health of the employees using
computers is directly proportional to the financial growth of the company. In most parts of the
world, ergonomic evaluation and ergonomic interventions of computer workstations are
carried out to ensure healthy working environments for the employees [1-5]. Grace P.Y. Szeto
et.al found that viewing the screen at an angled position involves some degrees of combined
flexion, rotation and side flexion of the head and neck. It was also observed that the muscle
activity of the ipsilateral CES and contralateral UT had significantly increased [6]. The
research done by P.K. Nag et.al and Lynn C. Onyebeke et.al confirmed that the supported
forearm and wrist was useful for keyboard operators since the forearm support considerably
reduced shoulder & forearm muscle activity. It also assisted in maintaining the wrist in the
neutral posture [7-8]. Hence, in order to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders, it was
vital to design workstation matching the anthropometric dimensions of the user.
It was also found by Looze et al. 2003 that sedentary work leading to sitting on the chair
for long hours leads to pain in the lower back and neck [9]. Researchers have also found that
many IT professionals were mainly lazy to adjust their chair based on ergonomic principles
[P. Vink, 2007]. This could be due to lack of knowledge to adjust the chair and not using
chairs which have easily adjustable mechanisms.
However, it is essential to adjust the chair to maintain neutral postures and hence, reduce
pain. This work reports the fabrication of a chair which can automatically adjust its seat pan
height and armrest height from the floor for each user based on their respective
anthropometric dimensions.

2. SELECTION OF THE RANGE OF MOVEMENT OF THE SEAT PAN


AND ARMREST OF THE CHAIR
Based on OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and ADA Standards
for Accessible Design, the following seat pan height, and armrest height was considered.
Seat Pan Height = Popliteal height
Arm Rest Height = Seated Elbow height
The book “Indian Anthropometric dimensions” by Debkumar Chakrabarti was referred to
design the range of adjustment of the seat pan and the armrest. Based on the design
guidelines given by Debkumar Chakrabarti, the range of adjustment of the armrests was taken
between 5th and 95th percentile values of the seated elbow height from the seat pan. Similarly,
the range of adjustment of the seat pan was taken from 25th to 95th percentile values of the
popliteal height.
Hence, with respect to the Indian anthropometric details, the height range of the seat pan
was taken from 400 mm to 470 mm from the floor. Likewise, the height range for the
armrests from the seat pan was taken between 124 mm and 270 mm.

3. MATERIALS & METHODS


3.1. RC522 RFID Reader/Writer
Figure 1 shows the RFID card & reader that was used for the chair. The RFID reader reads the
stature height of the user which was written on the RFID card. It sends the data to the
Microcontroller ATMEGA 328P for converting the stature height to popliteal height and
seated elbow height from the floor. The calculations were calibrated as per the standards
mentioned by Debkumar Chakrabarti.

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Mona Sahu, Santhiyagu Joseph Vijay, Masepogu Wilson Kumar and Darius Gnanaraj Solomon

Figure 1. Typical RFID card & reader.

3.2. Electric Linear Actuators


Three linear actuators were used to automate the movement of the seat pan and armrest. The
following 2 types of linear actuators were used to move the seat pan and the armrests.

3.2.1. Linear Actuator DC 12V 330lbs 70 mm Stroke Length


Figure 2 shows the miniature linear actuator which uses a DC motor drive screw rod and the
telescopic. The motor has positive and negative poles and the direction of movement of the
rod can be changed by changing the electrode input. This is used for actuating the seat pan. As
per the requirement, the maximum height for the seat pan should not exceed 470 mm and the
minimum position should be maintained at 400 mm from the floor. Hence, a linear actuator
with stroke length 70 mm is preferred and the retracted length was 175mm, which was found
sufficient. The specification of the actuator is shown in Figure 2. Since built-in potentiometer
was not available for a 70 mm stroke length linear actuator, 10 mm potentiometer was
additionally used to provide the feedback mechanism.

Specifications

• Material: Aluminium alloy


• Input Voltage: 12V DC
• Working frequency: 20%
• Speed: 3-40mm/s
• Load capacity: 100N –
1500N(22-331lbs)
• Stroke Length: 70mm/2.8inch
• Retracted Length:
175mm/6.89inch

Figure 2. The linear actuator used for actuating the seat pan

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Design and Fabrication of An Automated Seat Pan and Armrest Height Adjustable Chair

3.2.2. Linear Actuator DC 12V 200 mm stroke length with Potentiometer feedback
Both left and right armrests were actuated by individual actuators of this type. As per the
design, the range of height for the armrest from the seat pan was taken from 124 mm to 270
mm. The specifications of the actuators are shown in Figure 3.

Specifications

• Voltage: 12V DC
• Stroke size: 200mm/8”
• Load Capacity: 750N
• Speed: 10mm/s
• No-load current: 2A
• Potentiometer: 10KΩ
• Duty cycle: 10%

Figure 3. The linear actuator used for actuating the armrest.

4. WORKING PROCEDURE FOR RFID SYSTEM


The height of the user is first recorded on an RFID card. The RFID card is swiped on the
RFID reader on the chair. The RFID reader reads the stature height of the user-recorded on
the card and sends the value to the Microcontroller ATMEGA 328P. The microcontroller
converts the stature height to popliteal height and seated elbow height from the floor. The
microcontroller also calculates the required range of movement by the actuators and sends the
signal to the actuators for movement. Three potentiometers that are integrated with the linear
actuators give the feedback to stop the actuators at the required position.

5. FABRICATION OF THE SMART CHAIR


Primarily, a chair was dismantled and the roller base dimensions and the seat pan attachment
dimensions were measured. The measured values were used to design the couplings to house
the linear actuator on to the roller base of the chair. Initially, the coupling that was designed to
fix the base of the actuator on the chair roller base was fabricated. After which the other
coupling which was designed to attach the top portion of the actuator to the seat pan frame as
shown in Figure 4 was also fabricated. In the first design of the coupling, bearings were not
used but a small clearance of 2 mm was provided to facilitate the rotation of the seat pan. The
correct height of the seat pan from the floor was maintained at 400 mm and the actuator was
stable without any wobbling when the person was seated on the chair and while the actuator
was made to move upward. However, the disadvantage of this set up was that the seat pan
could not be rotated. The second design of the coupling was fabricated and assembled as
shown in Figure 5. Here, the actuator was also supported using a square frame to arrest the
radial movement of the actuator.

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Mona Sahu, Santhiyagu Joseph Vijay, Masepogu Wilson Kumar and Darius Gnanaraj Solomon

Figure 4. Linear actuator assembled to the base of the chair and the seat pan frame

Figure 5. Linear actuator assembled to the chair base with the support frame and the bearing.

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Design and Fabrication of An Automated Seat Pan and Armrest Height Adjustable Chair

In order to reduce wobbling, a cylindrical shaped telescopic frame was designed and
fabricated to arrest any possible movement of the base actuator as shown in Figure 6. Hence,
it was decided to use a cylindrical bearing in the coupling to maintain the height from the
floor at 400 mm. Hence, the new coupling was designed and fabricated as shown in Figure 6.

(a) (b)

Figure 6. (a) The support for the base actuator (b) Assembled coupling and ball bearing.

5. TESTING OF THE SMART CHAIR


Forty subjects were recruited for testing the smart chair and the RFID cards were written
for all subjects. The testing was done in 2 phases as explained below.
Phase 1: Every subject was first asked to adjust the height of the seat pan and armrests of
an existing computer manually based on their comfort level. The right & left knee, right & left
elbow and trunk angles were measured using electro goniometers as shown in Figure 7 (a).
Phase 2: After which they were asked to swipe their respective cards on the smart chair
and the smart chair adjusted the seat pan height and both the armrest height. The right & left
knee, right & left elbow and trunk angles were measured using electro goniometers as shown
in Figure 7 (b).

(a) (b)

Figure 7. The measurement of postural angles using electro-goniometry of the subject seated on (a)
Existing Office Chair (b) Smart Chair

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Mona Sahu, Santhiyagu Joseph Vijay, Masepogu Wilson Kumar and Darius Gnanaraj Solomon

6. RESULTS & DISCUSSION


The average deviations from the neutral posture of the 40-person
40 person user study in the two
phase’s experimental conditions
onditions are shown in Figure 8. It can be inferred from Figure
F 8 that,
while seated on the smart chair, the deviation from the neutral posture of the trunk, right &
left knee and elbow is much less compared to while seated on a self-ad
self adjusted office chair.
This proved that the smart chair was able to maintain
maintain seating postures close to neutral posture.
The mean value of the left and right knee angle deviation for Phase 2 experimental condition
is almost the same (close to 4 degrees). Whereas,
Whereas, under Phase 1 experimental condition, the
mean value of the left knee angle deviation is 9.5 degrees and mean value of the right knee
angle deviation is around 6.5 degrees. It can be concluded that the smart chair maintains the
deviation from the neutral
ral within 5 degrees.
10
9
8
Deviation (degrees)

7
6
5
Phase 1
4
Phase 2
3
2
1
0
Knee Angle Knee Angle Elbow Angle Elbow Angle Trunk Angle
(Left) (Right) (Left) (Right)

Figure 8. Average deviations from the neutral posture of the 40-subject


40 user study of Phase 1 and
Phase 2 are shown in the figure.
Table 1 gives the percentage of subjects having less deviation in Phase 2 experimental
condition compared
mpared with Phase 1 experimental condition. From table 1, 1, it can be inferred that
82.5% of the 40 subject’s maintained
maintain better posture in all the 5 postural angels while seated
on smart chair as compared to the subject seated on an office chair which was adjusted
ad based
on their comfort. The prototype designed and tested by Yu-Chian Chian Wu et.al
et. which uses
Microsoft Kinect sensor for skeletal sensing and monitoring to determine the ideal furniture
positions for each user, then uses a combination of automatic adjustmentadjustment and real-time
real
feedback to adjust the computer monitor, desk, and chair positions. They measured the head
tilt; viewing, upper arm, forearm, thigh and knee angle. Their The system improved overall
posture angles only by 51.4% compared to the manual approach.
appro
From Table 1,, it can also be observed that the smart chair was able to correctly adjust the
seat pan height and both armrests for the majority of the male and female subjects. Therefore,
it can be concluded that there is no difference in the results pertaining to gender.

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Design and Fabrication of An Automated Seat Pan and Armrest Height Adjustable Chair

Table 1 Percentage of subjects having less deviation in Phase 2 compared to Phase 1.


Left Knee Right Knee Left Elbow Right Elbow Trunk

All 82.5% 80% 87.5% 90% 85%


Males 80% 80% 95% 85% 85%
Females 85% 80% 80% 95% 85%
On an average only 20% of the subjects had more deviation in Phase 2 experimental
condition compared with Phase 1. Further research is required to improve this prototype to
automate the process of measuring the actual popliteal height and seating elbow height.

6. CONCLUSION
The design and fabrication of the automated seat pan and armrest height adjustable chair
(Smart Chair) was successfully completed.
Three iterations of the design were done. After which, it was decided to use the best
working design.
Electro-goniometry was used to test the posture attained on the smart chair and on the
manually adjusted office chair. 40 subjects with various percentile stature participated in the
study. The results were analyzed and compared between the smart chair and manually
adjusted office chair.
From the results, it can be seen that the prototype helped the subjects to maintain close to
neutral posture significantly as compared with manually adjusted office chair by the subject.
However, it is better to further automate the process of measuring the popliteal height and the
seated armrest height to achieve better postures.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Mr. P. Mohan Kumar for helping with the
fabrication of the linear actuator couplings and the frame. Also, the authors would like to
thank Mr. Emmanuel D’Souza who helped in building the electronic circuit system.

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