The Posture Suspenders
The Posture Suspenders senses posture in real-time and via vibration alerts the user to bad posture. Thereby the user develops muscle memory for correct posture.
Slouching not only makes you look bad it also causes long-term damage to your health. A bad posture can result in back pains, tension headaches, and spinal musculoskeletal disorders. Bad posture often occurs because the muscles surrounding the spine can’t support the weight of the upper body, which results in a poor posture and the above mentioned “side effects”.
One-half of all working Americans have back pain symptoms each year and in total Americans spend more than $50 billion each year on back pains. But bad posture does not only leed to invisible pains. For twenty-five percent of women above 50, bad posture has resulted in a loss of height and increased kyphosis (round back).
The existing products:
Most of the devices that are available today use accelerometers to determine if the user is slouching . The first prototypes of the Posture Suspenders I developed also used multiply accelerometers, but I found that the noise from the accelerometers was to high and that they were very sensitive to changes in body position (They often needed to be re-calibrated everytime you move just a little).
One of the most popular devices on the market today is the iPosture device. iPosture uses a single accelerometer to tell if the user deviates more than a certain thresholds from a user-set position. But the users have to re-calibrate it every time the they change position ( push a button to tell the device “this is the correct position for me now”).
The big difference between The Posture Suspenders and products similar to iPosture is, that the users don’t have to recalibrate The Posture Suspenders every time they change position making it more likely that the user actually will improve his or her posture.
The Posture Suspenders
A pair of normal suspenders from Amazon is the base of The Posture Suspenders. A piece of stretchable conductive fabric have been added to the suspenders and a vibrator is providing feedback to the user.
The conductive fabric changes its resistance based on the stretch of the fabric, which is used to determine the users posture. The conductive fabric will be lose (low resistance) when the user is slouching and visa vasa and when the user has a correct posture.
An Arduino Pro Mini is sewed onto the suspenders, where the fabric-sensor, the vibrator and a XeBee wireless radio all are connected. A 3.6 volts battery is powering all the electronics. (The XeBee, should not be in the final version of The Posture Suspender, it is only in this prototype to visualize the posture in real time).