Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Dynamic Work Surface Prompting Physical Activity

Technology #5831

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Nicolaas Ida Bohnen
Managed By
Tiefei Dong
Senior Licensing Specialist, Life Sciences 734-763-5332
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Researchers in the University of Michigan Medical School have developed a table or work surface that encourages users to remain physically active. The technology prompts users to perform non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) in a way that does not have a cognitive price. An array of medical issues from obesity to heart disease are caused by inactivity and excess sitting, driving many people and workplaces to look for solutions that avoids a sedentary lifestyle. Existing solutions such as desks with integrated treadmills have a cognitive price, thus disrupting and slowing the work being done. The technology developed is able to induce NEAT through a dynamic work surface that uses subtle cues. The surface can also be used for novel applications in clinical rehabilitation using dual task cognitive-motor treatments.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) reflects human energy expenditure through changes in posture and movement associated with routines of daily life. The developed technology uses time and cost-effective life-style modification to facilitate lower extremity or body weight shift movements through the automated motion of the surface. The technology has been developed and is undergoing extensive testing. The surface can be used in the home, in the office, and for clinical rehabilitation of patients with evidence of gait/balance impairments, obesity, diabetes, or disequilibrium. Standing and exercise desks are a rapidly gaining acceptance, providing a rapidly expanding market. The cognitive price of the treadmill desks is holding back adoption, providing a valuable opportunity of a technology that provides the activity without the cognitive price.


  • Offices
  • Home
  • Clinical rehabilitation


  • Encourages non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)
  • No cognitive price