Neurologist: Surround Sound Chairs Ease Stress
While experimenting with sound and motion for stress reduction, neurologist Dan Cohen, co-developer of Breathe Right Nasal Strips, developed BodySound chairs that just happen to be fun.
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.
More About the Chairs
There are two speakers (high frequency drivers) in the head rest portion of the seat back. Each speaker is angled approximately 30 degrees toward the listener.
Both spine speakers (mid frequency drivers) are contained in the same cabinet, although a divider separates it into two independent chambers, one for each speaker.
BodySound refers to the low-frequency driver in the seat as a driver, not a speaker per se, since speakers typically consist of driver(s) contained within a cabinet or housing and the seat driver is not housed in a cabinet. Even so, it’s a speaker for practical purposes.
For a 7.1 experience, arm speakers are optional. They must be connected manually to the amp’s external speaker connector.
The five- or seven-speaker array is powered with an in-chair 650-watt, seven-channel amplifier. DSPs provide independent channel control of volume, audio AC3 component mix and EQ shaping. The same goes for the automatic volume adjustment system, the Body# system (vibratory special effects), two sonic massage generators, Dolby Digital decoding and Dolby Virtual speaker encoding.
Amplifier inputs include optical, analog pair or inputs from BodySound’s BodyLink, a dedicated audio router that connects up to seven sources to the chair’s amp.
The BodySound software allows users to personalize their amplifier settings and save them as presets. The software runs on the company’s Control Link hardware and offered free of charge for running on a PC.
BodySound CEO and president, Dr. Dan Cohen and his wife, Ellen
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