Lie back, relax, and get to work with Altwork, a crazy configurable desk

This workstation set-up will make you feel like a spaceship commander. In a good way.

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Adam Patrick Murray

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Most of us sit hunched over at our desks to get work done. Others are convinced that sitting will lead us to our early graves and have switched to standing desks. You can usually find me on my couch with a MacBook balanced on my lap, which I’m sure is really healthy.

But what about a desk that offers the best of all worlds and lets you sit, stand, and even lay down to work? Well, it actually exists. Altwork is an entirely configurable workstation on wheels making its debut at the South by Southwest Interactive Hardware House on Friday night, but we got a sneak peek of the finished product this morning.

altwork sxsw 2 Adam Patrick Murray

OK, you’re probably wondering: Who wants to lay down while they’re working? I felt the same, until I sat down at Altwork’s desk, pressed a button, and let the machine gently recline until I was on my back with a monitor above my head. I’m not gonna lie: It feels like being the captain of a spaceship. But aside from the novelty, the ability to recline and still see a display and have easy access to a keyboard and mouse (thanks to an adjustable desk and magnets) is essential for people who have experienced injury or live with chronic pain.

That’s exactly where the idea for Altwork came from. One of the startup’s founders, John Spiecher, was injured in a car accident and unable to work sitting at a traditional desk. He wondered what it would be like if your desk could be configured to your body’s needs, instead of adjusting your body to fit the desk. Altwork was born, and it’s taken five years to create a workstation with endlessly customizable settings.

altwork sxsw 4 Adam Patrick Murray

“I grew up in the culture of ‘suck it up and keep working,’ even if your body is hurting,” Altwork cofounder Che Voigt explained during a demo in Austin. Most people seeing the workstation for the first time focus on the novelty of a reclining desk, he said, but there’s more to it than that. The desk moves with you.

“Different tasks are best done in different positions,” he said.

altwork sxsw 1 Adam Patrick Murray

Altwork can be customized with add-ons like side tables, laptop mounts, and storage, with an option to mount up to four monitors coming soon (talk about the ultimate gaming rig). It can be used with Macs or PCs.

The company is currently accepting preorders for its workstations, starting at $3,900 for the standard series and $4,900 for the signature series (which includes that sweet citron fabric you see above). The desk will retail for $5,900 and up. Preorders start shipping this summer.

SXSWi is an event that’s more about Big Ideas than the latest gadgets, but the Hardware House has devices galore. Stay tuned for more from news and videos from Austin as we hunt down the craziest tech you need to know about right now.

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