TOKYO, JAPAN — Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd. announced it has applied its advanced robotic technologies to a seating application. Together with Okamura Corp., a leading manufacturer of office furniture, the two companies became first in the world to develop a concept model for seating using muscular mechanism. The concept model fits the body, in which the back and seat of the chair follow the movement of the user’s body from seating and reclining through to standing.
OKI and Okamura’s converged technologies: LEOPARD
“OKI’s robotic technology is based on studies of human movement and leverages new mechanisms for applications in the future technology of mechatronics. By applying this technology for human interfaces, we believe we can offer new values to products,” said Yutaka Asai, Chief Technology Officer at OKI. “After thorough discussion, OKI focused on a situation where a child is held by the parent on the lap – that is, to develop a seat that can embrace the sitter through robotic technology based on an understanding of the human skeletal structure and muscular mechanisms. Adopting the very human concept of ’embrace and wrap,’ OKI and Okamura decided to develop the concept jointly.”
As the creation of intellectual value becomes important, office space also requires creativity and diversity. In such a creative environment, seating is becoming an important tool and new and unconventional values are desired,” said Hiroki Iwashita, Managing Director and General Manager of Marketing Division at Okamura. “We are pleased to debut this new concept combining OKI’s advanced mechatronics technology with our seating technology, in which we have years of experience.”
OKI’s Robot Leg
Applying OKI’s robotic technology to seating
OKI has been researching bone structure and muscular mechanisms and has now applied its “Robot Leg(*1)” technology that can jump and land with human-like balance to seating. Understanding of the structure and features of the thigh to hip joint muscles was applied to the seat and back of the chair. As a result, the seat of the chair operates as musculature above the human knee and the back operates as the human body. In addition, by converging various technologies of Okamura’s seating technology, including a newly developed carbon frame and seating cushion shape into the concept model, the two companies succeeded in achieving a new idea.
Applying the structure and features of the thigh to hip joint muscles to the back and seat
Continuing fit from seating and reclining through to standing up
This seating has a unique forward leaning style in its idle mode, as if a person were waiting in a half-sitting position. When a person sits into the seat, it feels as if the seat is wrapped around from the back, and fits perfectly to the back. Whether in a reclining or in a forward leaning position, the seat fits perfectly. In addition, when the person scoots his or her body forward to stand up, the seat rises up slightly to assist the user to a natural standing position. This is not a mechanism that pursues only the comfort when reclining as in conventional products, but it continues to fit from seated, reclining, and leaning positions through to standing up-in other words, a completely new mechanism.
Based on OKI’s robotic technology, the concept model assists the user from seating and reclining through to standing up
OKI and Okamura will begin to commercialize this product by May 2009 by evolving each technology further in application to this concept model. In addition, taking this project as a start, OKI will challenge new mechatronics technologies.