Stir Kinetic Desk softly pushes you to stand (hands-on)

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/ Updated: 22 November 2013 10:47 pm GMT

Standing as much as possible throughout the day is the new trend in personal fitness circles. Makers of recent activity trackers, such as Nike, Fitbit, and Jawbone, have built in features to push people upright. Startup company Stir feels its new Kinetic Desk is an even better way to motivate folks to their feet, especially in office settings.

Compared with relatively inexpensive fitness gadgets such as the Nike+ FuelBand SE , Jawbone Up24 , and Fitbit Force that run around $150, the $3,890 Stir Kinetic Desk is a downright opulent purchase even for a sizable piece of furniture. That said, I can vouch personally that the Stir is one impressive work space rig. Not only does it switch from sitting to standing configurations on its own, the desk actually senses your presence and monitors how long you stand versus the amount of time you sit.

Stir Kinetic Desk
The Stir Kinetic Desk is no ordinary work surface. Sarah Tew/CNET

Design and features
At almost 5 feet long and 2.5 feet wide, the Kinetic Desk is by no means small. Neither is it particular thin or light at 3.5 inches thick and tipping the scales at 150 pounds. There's a good reason for the Kinetic's large size, though, as I learned when I spent time with both the desk and the people behind it.

Essentially a flat rectangular table propped up on two inverted T-shaped legs, the Kinetic Desk's minimalist aesthetic hides some serious technology. Each leg is motorized and will raise or lower the desktop to standing or sitting position. Stir says the desk can support up to 75 pounds (when in motion).

Stir Kinetic Desk
A touch screen controls the desk and displays time spent sitting and standing. Sarah Tew/CNET

What's really interesting, however, is the Kinetic features a 4.3-inch touch screen in its left desktop corner from which you can control all of its functions. For instance, double-tapping the display commands the desk to rise to standing mode, or tells it to lower to a standard sitting height. You also have the freedom to customize the height of the desk to your personal taste, with a range of 22 to 51 inches.

Trying the Kinetic out for a spin myself, I was impressed with how smoothly the desk operated. It rose to full standing height in under 10 seconds. The Kinetic's motors were also very quiet, giving only a soft whir that I heard in the empty apartment where Stir gave its desk-side demo. I bet I'd have trouble hearing the motorized action in a busy, bustling office environment.

Stir Kinetic Desk
The Kinetic Desk uses motors to switch to standing position. Sarah Tew/CNET

Even wilder is that the Kinetic Desk is designed to pay close attention to how long you sit or stand before it. It will also recommend when it thinks you should change positions, by softly moving up and down in a "breathlike" gesture. Stir envisions this as a method of helping users avoid discomfort or simply take timely breaks. All this is made possible thanks to the Kinetic's integrated thermal sensor.

The desk itself plugs into a standard three-prong AC outlet for power but can also supply other devices with electricity. Hidden under two bays at the top left and right sides of the desktop are extra USB and AC ports.

Stir Kinetic Desk
Two bays house USB and AC ports. Sarah Tew/CNET

While the Kinetic Desk model I saw was crafted in a smooth white finish, Stir explained that other colors will be available, including hardwood.

Outlook
An office desk costing close to $4,000 is the furthest thing from an impulse buy, at least for me. I doubt many individuals will want to splurge on the Kinetic Desk either, or could successfully convince their companies to pay for one. Yes, I only see this as a workplace toy for well-heeled CEOs and the like. Perhaps that's why Stir plans on constructing just 100 units, at least in the first production run. Want to learn more? You can find additional information about the Stir Kinetic Desk at Stirworks.com.

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