We used to rely on our parents and health teachers to tell us to sit up straight. Now there’s a device for it.
Upright GO, a small bluetooth-capable posture trainer that attaches straight to your back. At $100, it doesn’t come cheap. But if you’re worried about the effect sitting in front of a computer is having on your back, it might be worth it.
“Research shows we spend nine hours a day sitting at a computer,” says Upright co-founder Ori Fruhauf. “And you add to that all the time we’re looking at our phone with our neck bent. It’s an epidemic that’s really affecting everybody.”
Upright GO comes complete with a carrying case, charger cord, adhesive strips and alcohol pads for cleaning residue from those adhesive strips. There’s a user manual, but it’s hardly necessary. Once downloaded, the app explains everything.
After you slap Upright GO on your back, you calibrate the device by deciding what your upright posture is. There are two settings—tracking and training. Tracking simply monitors your posture as you wear the device. It’s a good way to start things off. When you sit upright, the little figure in the center of the circle stays green; if you slouch too far forward, it turns red. During my first day, I was surprised to find myself far more green than red:
The tracking mode is simple but fascinating. I found myself actively sitting up even though I knew there was no real reason to be—this was a litmus test to gauge my normal posture. (I’ll leave it up to you to decide what I was doing during the red slouching periods.) But Fruhauf says that placebo effect is intentional.
“That’s something that we’ve seen with a lot of our users,” he says. “It’s part of our ultimate goal, that you won’t be dependent on the device, that you’ll actually develop the ability to sit and stand with upright posture throughout the day.”
It almost makes the training mode redundant. Upright GO tries to get you into training right away, starting off with an eight minute upright session. The goal is to stay upright for that entire eight minutes straight. Then it graduates to nine minutes, ten minutes and so on. If you lean forward in training mode, however, the Upright GO will give you a light vibration to alert you of your slouch.
The buzz isn’t jarring at all—it feels kind of nice, in fact.
An increasing number of modern jobs involve long hours in front of a computer. As a result, slouching has become a big problem. In designing the device, Fruhauf and the Upright team consulted medical professionals about the issue and how to solve it, and so far have received rave reviews from the medical community.
“The biggest thing clinicians like is the fact that when patients leave the office they have something to remind them to sit up straight,” he says. “They’re also impressed at how quickly it has an effect.”
I was too. From what I could tell, Upright GO does the job. The training mode seems a little overblown, but only because the aforementioned placebo effect was real. Simply knowing the device was on my back and tracking my posture made me more cognizant of slouching. Training mode might make more sense when you’re used to the device and can more easily forget it’s there.
There are some minor downsides, though. Since you calibrate your own upright posture, it’s relatively easy to game the device. That would be a design flaw if you didn’t drop 100 bucks on the thing to improve your posture. The adhesive pads are meant to last for a few days, but you can order more online. The alcohol wipes do a good enough job cleaning them, but if you have back hair, repeated use of the pads gets a little unseemly. On a positive note, the little adhesive removing tool can easily double as a guitar pick.
The Upright GO is pricey, especially for something so small that seems so simple. But a life free from bad-posture related back pain is priceless. Upright GO could be the key to setting your life, and spine, straight.