Man in chair with headrest

Bring Your Own Headrest

We are all familiar with the workarounds that people use to improve the ergonomics of their spaces. At work we have footrests made out of books, boxes, and other random objects. The biggest loss of the smartphone era is that we have no phonebooks to raise our kids up to the dining room table. Back supports rummaged from garage sale couch cushions. These are great indications that the original design is lacking and a fantastic source of ideas for how to improve the design.

My Take

For this episode in our HF in History series, I wanted to share an example invented in 1865. I can easily envision simple adjustability in the height of the head support and in the attachment to the chair – even with this 1865 technology.

It also seems reasonably portable – conveniently stuffed into a carry-on sized rollerbag. Or how about this idea – somehow integrate this device as the handle for the rollerbag. The headrest wouldn’t take up valuable space inside the bag and when you need to put the bag in the overhead compartment, it wouldn’t have the handle sticking out (you would be removing it to use as a headrest). Since airlines are once again reducing the size of the overhead compartments, removable handles that allow the bag to squeeze into smaller spaces might be increasingly important in the coming year.

Your Turn

So what do you think of this 150 year-old idea? It seems pretty impressive given that ergonomics hadn’t been invented yet. I added the adjustability because I don’t think it was known back then how important adjustability is. And the rollerbag hadn’t been invented yet either. What would you add to the 2015 design? What constraints do you foresee?

We look forward to your comments and ideas.

Image Credit: Scientific American

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