IHunch is a wearable device that helps people become more aware of bad posture. This project explored the two-pronged high-tech / low-tech methodology we developed during the 2023 Augmentation Residency. We approached the problem with both a low-tech and high-tech solution developed in parallel, sharing insights and investigating tradeoffs. The high-tech solution is a two-layer PCB with an accelerometer, gyroscope, and attached flex sensors to computationally detect the bending of the neck and shoulders and raise awareness through vibration motors. The low-tech solution uses different elastic fabric materials as posture tape for providing feedback through tension as the user stretches.
We aimed to have a useable device providing accurate feedback to users about their state of posture. We operated under the assumption that if people were more aware of their posture, they could consciously fix it. Through the contrast between a low-tech and a high-tech, we aimed to explore whether more electronics or "high" tech solutions always lead to the best, easiest results.
Biology of Muscles & Poor posture
In order to detect the bending of the shoulders and the neck, we decided to learn more about the anatomy of the human back.
Usually poor posture can be seen in computer workers with a forward head, rounded shoulders, and slouched spine. When one is sitting in this awkward posture, we can see a tightening of the fascia and muscles of the iliopsoas, pectineus, occipitals, pectoralis, trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, levator scapularis, adductors, and piriformis.
With this information, we went on to design both the low-tech and high-tech solutions for bad posture throughout the day.
Before directly jumping into a higher tech solution, including micro-electronics and mechanics that you could wear on your back, we wanted to completely try out simple low-tech designs that anyone could do at home, if they wanted to. This is part of our human-centered approach through an extension of technology that does not just stop at electrical devices.
Everyone with a somewhat stretchable piece of fabric and tape can make these low-tech design quickly to test out if they work for them. We then tried multiple different geometrical structures of fabric and tape as a very low-tech prototype.
Furthermore, we have also tested existing technology such as a Postural Support Kinesiology Tape.
The high-tech solution consisted of a two-layer PCB with an accelerometer, gyroscope, and more, as well as flex sensors and vibration motors. With the combination of all of these, the device vibrates whenever the user has bad posture for a certain period of time.