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Engineers launch new AI tool to protect the health of remote workers


healthtech startup founded by a team of physiotherapists and engineers has launched a new AI tool to dramatically improve the health and productivity of the remote workforce. 

The tool, called VIDA, uses cutting edge computer-vision AI to conduct an in-depth assessment of employees’ WFH set-up – all via their webcam. The tech analyses shoulder positioning, screen-to-eye distance,  screen height and lower back support. It also assesses wellbeing factors such as natural light, clutter and the presence of plants. 

This data is captured via a user-friendly test that takes less than ten minutes. Once complete, algorithms generate a bespoke report for each team member designed to inform positive behavioural changes. The report features recommendations to help them avoid musculoskeletal issues; including practical advice on how to change their desk set-up and exercises proven to improve posture, productivity and wellbeing. 

The team behind the tech was inspired to develop the software after noticing a sharp rise in musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints amongst professionals now working from home. In the first two weeks of lockdown alone, more than half of respondents to an IES survey reported new aches and pains, especially in the neck (58 per cent), shoulder (56 per cent) and back (55 per cent), compared to their normal physical condition. 

The tool launches just as the HSE releases updated guidance for employers, reminding them that if home working arrangements become permanent, they must carry out risk assessments of their employees’ remote working set ups. The VIDA tool is designed to replace outdated and labour-intensive assessment methods, and help employers and employees make tailored practical changes for a happier and healthier working life.

VIDA is AI latest tech from musculoskeletal health specialists Vitrue. To date, the company has developed a range of tech-based tools to improve biomechanical function and musculoskeletal health, working with leading physiotherapists and elite sports teams across the UK.

Shane Lowe, co-founder and CEO at Vitrue, says: 

“At Vitrue, we’re working to democratise access to the very best new AI technology in musculoskeletal healthcare. VIDA is an important part of this mission, allowing anyone with a webcam to receive personalised MSK care in minutes.

“A safe working environment is a basic right, but all too often we overlook the simple adjustments that could have a major impact on our health. By deploying simple, intelligent tools like VIDA, occupational health risks can be identified and resolved remotely before they have a negative impact. The targeted support provided not only helps prevent health problems, but also gives practical advice on boosting productivity and preventing burnout.”

“WFH is now a way of life for a significant part of the workforce, and it’s crucial that we find impactful, clinically valid solutions to avoid the potential negative impacts of this. With employers now being advised to carry out workplace assessments with remote workers, it’s the perfect time for employers to prioritise keeping staff physically healthy at home.”

Rachel Brammer, Senior Physiotherapist and Clinical Lead at Vitrue, comments: 

“As a qualified physiotherapist, I’m hugely excited about the impact that our technology is going to have on improving the physical and mental health of remote workers. Without the right support and expert guidance, it’s incredibly easy to develop aches, pains and serious injuries. 

“Our tool puts the latest AI tech into play to help people to make the best choices about their desktop setup. We hope that it will also support employers in providing necessary WFH equipment to their workforce.”

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