Upright’s wearable device connects to your back and helps improve your posture. Thankfully, we had the chance to test it out
So, how are you sitting now?
The answer is most likely not: “With a straight back at an ergonomically adjusted desk.”
If the opening of this article hasn’t already prompted you to straighten your back, give it a go right now. Try keeping your back straight for the rest of this article. Unfortunately you may find that after five minutes or less, you will be longing to slouch again. If this is the case, Upright has the product for you.
The importance of good posture
As well as causing back pain in the short and long term, slouching affects your body language, mood, self confidence and more. It is estimated that as many as 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
Vast research demonstrates the benefits of good posture. It was found that “adopting an upright seated posture in the face of stress can maintain self-esteem, reduce negative mood, and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture.” Furthermore good posture can improve mood and energy levels and increase lung capacity by as much as 30 percent.
Oded Cohen founded Upright when he couldn’t find an adequate solution for his mother’s slouching. So in July 2012, he started Upright in Israel, with a mission to eradicate bad posture. In May 2014, Upright launched an Indiegogo campaign and raised $155,244 from over 2,000 backers. They completed a seed round from private and angel investors.
The UPRIGHT device started shipping in December 2015 with the U.S. as the first target market. While UPRIGHT is not a medical device (the company is not seeking FDA approval), it is manufactured as one and the company is partnering with leading clinics in Israel to produce case studies. Results so far are positive. Furthermore, they are running corporate wellness programs with some large corporations. Upright completed a successful pilot with SAP and has some much larger ones in progress.
UPRIGHT sits on your back, using a disposable adhesive that connects to the device by velcro. Every time you slouch, the device gently vibrates to prompt you to straighten your back. The overall experience is very simple and all interaction with the device is through the app. It took me around 7 minutes or so for the initial setup, including some explanation videos; with every subsequent use, a short calibration is necessary, which takes around 30 seconds.
After setup, you start a personalized training program that strengthens your core muscles by increasing the duration of each session over time. UPRIGHT has a ‘smart learning algorithm’ so the more you wear it, the more it grows accustomed to your unique back and movements. It is advised to use the device up to an hour a day, so it is suitable for shared use.
Think of this device as a treadmill for your posture. While it keeps you going, you are ultimately the one who has to do all the heavy lifting. UPRIGHT can help you get the results, but you have to be motivated to keep using it.
The Upright team kindly supplied me with a sample unit for the purpose of this review. Overall, I was very impressed with the device and was satisfied with the ease of use.
Both the device and app are ‘first generation products’ and while the device is made to a very high standard, the app has room for improvement.
The app is quite buggy at the moment and is missing some of the advanced features, so don’t expect a smooth UX until the upcoming app, which is due to be released in September. For example, the app would skip days on my training program resulting in very hard training jumps. The support was quick and helpful and a fix was delivered in the next update. Currently the Upright training program is pretty basic and doesn’t vary much from user to user. In the next release the programs will be properly tailored to each user’s profile, including height, weight, and age.
Personally, I found UPRIGHT very effective. While in theory you could reach the same results with strong willpower, it does solve a serious problem for many of us who may lack that self-discipline.
The training program was something of a painful ordeal, but if you stick to it, you will be able to achieve the posture you always wanted. By the second day of use, my back was already sore after the training. I was surprised to learn how much I had to strengthen my back muscles before I could hold my back straight for lengthy periods. Don’t expect yourself to reach a ruler-straight back 24 hours a day, but over time you will be able to keep your back straight for a significant amount of the day.
The views expressed are of the author.
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