Quantified Work: Meet Stir, A Former iPod Engineer’s Smart, Health-Tracking And Height-Adjustable Desk

If you’re anything like me, you spend way too much of your day seated, at your desk, hunched in front of your computer. During busy days — especially once firmly planted “the zone” — it’s easy for a few hours to fly by without leaving a sedentary position. For this reason, I’m probably not the only one who could use a gentle reminder, just a little, “Hey Rip, you’ve been sitting for two hours, how about standing up, ya lazy bum?”

Well, my friends, your Fitbit can remind you that you’re behind on your steps, but what if your desk could remind you to stand up, or take a break? Thanks to Stir, a Los Angeles-born startup founded by former Apple, Disney and IDEO employees, now you can buy a smart desk that will do just that.

The Stir Kinetic Desk, the startup’s first product, which launches today, combines the health-tracking software of popular wearables like FitBit and Up with connected-hardware and machine learning to create a work experience that actually promotes movement — and, in so doing, your health.

Stir Founder and CEO JP Labrosse was one of the first 35 employees to join Apple’s iPod Division, where he led engineering development teams on two early iPod projects. It not surprising, then, that the Kinetic Desk borrows a bit from familiar Apple designs and interfaces, including built-in touch screen, which has a very iPod-type size, shape and look to it. It’s this touch interface that acts as the desk’s main “control panel,” allowing users to change the configuration and height of their desk, or to go from sitting to standing (and back) just by double tapping.

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 10.37.20 AMNot only that, but the screen displays graphs and visual representations of a user’s movement, so they can quickly see how long they’ve been sitting and what their work habits and usage looks like. The desk contains a thermal presence sensor and computer outfitted with its health-tracking software, allowing it to track your movement and display that data through its touch screen.

While it may sound almost uncanny, not to worry, the desk isn’t yet outfitted with Siri’s voice or any sort of personal assistant. While Labrosse was willing to admit that the Stir Kinetic Desk could incorporate some Watson or HAL 9000-like features down the road, for now, the desk is meant to work in concert with the Internet of Things, not to try to commandeer it and dominate your office.

In fact, the desk tracks and adapts to your personal routine in such a way that’s meant to optimize health and productivity. The desk will display how many calories you’ve burned, time spent standing versus sitting — and your answer to “who is the most beautiful desk of them all?” of course.

Labrasse, echoing Harvard Business Review’s recent study, called sitting “the smoking of our generation,” which is probably a little overdramatic, but it’s true that in our overworked, over-connected modern work environment, we do spend more time in chairs than on our feet. While your Kinetic Desk won’t remind you to eat, shower, finish coding and go outside or be a better friend, it will help keep you upright and mindful of the healthier routine that’s right around the corner.

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 10.38.00 AMThe desk also contains a setting called “active mode,” which you can activate by hitting a button on the front of the desk, which will put it into “Whisperbreath” mode — meaning that the desk prompts you to move after you’ve been sitting for too long with a gentle, one-inch rising and falling motion. You can then double tap to change positions.

Stir’s new smart desk also comes with built-in AC and USB ports (eight and four, respectively), connected to a single power cord you plug into the wall, and comes with Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, which the CEO hopes will eventually allow the desk to integrate with third-party fitness and wellness devices. To think: Your desk could be come your fitness and wellness graph itself. Imagine that. The team will also eventually release a web-based dashboard to allow you to view your work and health data on the go.

The Stir Kinetic Desk has a hardwood surface, comes in white, espresso and four underside colors, and will retail at an expected $3,890. It’s not cheap, but, hey, you can’t put a price on good health, people, especially when it’s your office furniture that’s keeping you healthy.

Labrasse and the Stir team were kind enough to let us take their new health-conscious desk for a spin, and you’ll find our video below. Find the Stir Kinetic Desk at home here.