May 27, 2010
| by Julie Jacobson
When does a medical experiment turn into a piece of home theater furniture?
When it’s BodySound, a company that makes seating with surround-sound speakers built in.
The concept is the brainchild of CEO Dan Cohen, a neurologist and co-founder of Breathe Right, maker of the hugely popular Nasal Strips. A friend was experimenting with sound and vibrations in beds, and how it could lead to stress relief.
When he tried out the bed, “I felt profound relaxation,” he says. “So many disorders are stress related. Something that induced this level of relaxation I knew could be very important.”
So Cohen went to work on a chair what would soothe the mind and the body.
The result? “I can sit in the chair and watch the [Minnesota] Vikings and not get stressed,” Cohen says.
When Medicine = Fun
But the surround-sound chairs have become rather more of an entertainment luxury, even if they have “strategically placed speakers [for midrange frequencies] that stimulate the spine,” Cohen says.
In addition to the dual channels in the back, there are two high-frequency speakers at the head, a low frequency driver in the seat and two optional speakers in the arm rest – all driven by an in-chair 650-watt, seven-channel amplifier. DSP’s provide independent control of a number of characteristics from EQ to “vibratory special effects.”
Additionally, the user can adjust virtually any motorized piece of the furniture and trigger massage features as well.
We get the stress-relief thing, but why would you want these pricey chairs for entertainment?
“Most couples have different hearing thresholds,” Cohen says. “Like she can direct more of the central channel to the head to get better dialog.”
Users also can adjust their own vibratory sensations so “you can feel as much or as little as you like,” he says.
If you live in a condo or apartment, where noise should be self-contained, the BodySound chairs make good sense.
As the recent Electronic House Home of the Year proves, open entertainment spaces are all the rage. BodySound chairs enable one group to enjoy the big screen while others play ping pong or watch sports at the bar.
The Cohens believe BodySound chairs can be great stress relievers in the work place. Why not set up a room with a couple of chairs, where stressed-out workers can relax.
The BodySound Business
The manufacturer has a store at a mall in Eden Prairie, Minn. The store exists primarily for experimentation – to see how the chairs are used, gauge the experience of consumers, and experiment with the chairs’ construction after “kids jump on them,” Cohen says.
The main channel of distribution, though, is through the custom channel. Currently there are 12 specialty A/V shops that carry the line.
Currently, there is only style of chair, although several configurations are available.
Pricing starts at $5,995 for a recliner and $10,690 for a two-chair love seat. The big four-seater retails for $22,180.
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.