Background: Students remain in a sedentary position inside classrooms for 60% to 80% of their school day. As such, research has associated students' prolonged seated posture on school furniture with their discomfort and musculoskeletal pain. The correlation between the shape of the seat surface and the zones of the body making contact with these surfaces constitutes an essential factor in determining comfort-enhancing seat design.
Objective: This study's primary aim lies in contrasting the standard, current school chair against two seat prototypes, both designed and built from digital models, comparing seat-user pressure distribution and contact area during students' performance of different school tasks.
Methods: Participants (n = 13), ages 7 to 19, performed school tasks sitting on three different chairs' seat surfaces during the test: the current seat used in schools and two seat prototypes, each designed based on body anatomy. The seats were evaluated through a force-sensing array pressure-mapping system.
Results: The measurements from designed seat prototypes provide a better distribution of pressures and greater contact area with the students' anatomical areas (buttocks and thighs) than the seat currently used in the specified schools. The improvement in pressure values and contact area as seen in the second designed seat prototype is due to its inclination angle and contact with students' sacral zone.
Conclusions: This research work found that a seat's shape based on human anatomical features (buttocks and thighs), compared to a completely flat seat, creates a higher reduction of body pressures and an increase in the body contact area, with the intent to increase comfort and reduce musculoskeletal pain.
Keywords: School furniture; comfort; design; pressure measurement; seat surface shape.