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ALEX, Wearable Posture Tracker and Coach: Beat Neck and Back Pain

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 About this project


Beat Poor Posture.
End neck and back pain with ALEX!

ALEX is your wearable posture coach and posture tracker. It’s the first wearable to accurately measure the angle of your neck and the position of your head, so you can put an end to neck pain.

More than 80% of office workers suffer from Forward Head Posture (FHP) or Text Neck.(Just look around.) These conditions are caused by looking down at laptops, smartphones and other digital devices for extended periods. Even if you’ve never heard of FHP or Text Neck, you probably know their effects: Soreness and stiffness in your neck and spine.

In the short term, FHP and Text Neck can make it that little bit harder to get out of bed in the morning or to sit in your chair at work. In the long term they can lead to chronic pain and more serious spinal issues. Medical studies have even shown that physiological changes invoked by bad posture can include increased levels of cortisol and decreased testosterone, leading to stress and depression.

Many products promise relief from the pain cause by an epidemic of poor posture. We’ve tested out quite a few wearables and found that they’re often overly complicated, inaccurate or inconvenient. And while pills and massage therapies exist to treat the pain, none of these options effectively treat the underlying problem: Poor posture.

Our team of biomechanical engineers, developers and technology experts created ALEX to be different.

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ALEX doesn’t treat your pain, but addresses the causes underlying your pain by gently coaching you towards better posture, every day.

How ALEX Works

A number of other wearables claim to determine posture via devices fixed on your wrist or clothing. ALEX, on the other hand, sits lightly on the back of your neck, the only reliable location to measure neck posture. 

When you adopt poor posture for more than a few minutes, ALEX vibrates gently, encouraging you to improve. You can customise the exact length of time and the intensity of the vibration using ALEX’s companion smartphone app.

The app also lets you track your progress over time and monitor your posture in real time.

ALEX can track the angle of your neck and the position of your head, relative to your body. This means it can tell if you’re looking too far down or if you’re holding your head too far forward.

4 Easy Steps to Wearing ALEX

Step 1
Squeeze or separate the legs of the device to adjust the position of the sensor module to just below your hairline.

Step 2
Place the sensor module on the back of your neck and hang the legs over your ears. ALEX’s legs will naturally unfold to achieve the correct position.

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Step 3
Ensure that Alex is not placed on top of a shirt collar, or other clothing or jewelry.

Step 4
Check that the sensors are working correctly by selecting Avatar Mode in the companion coaching app and tilting your neck back and forth while watching the screen. You can calibrate ALEX for your own posture using the app.

 About the Coaching App

The accompanying coaching app will help you get the most from ALEX. It offers a number of unique features that help you track your posture over time and make improvements.

Avatar Mode allows you to view and manage posture changes in real-time. The app also provides graphs that track your progress toward improving your posture with ALEX. The video below demonstrates these features.

The companion coaching app’s feedback settings let you set the length of time before ALEX alerts you to poor posture, the angle at which it determines your posture to be poor, and the strength of the vibration.

ALEX communicates with your phone or tablet using Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy. This saves your phone’s battery, extends ALEX’s battery life to seven days, and reduces the number and duration of Bluetooth transmissions.

We’re working on even more features and will announce these in due course!

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ALEX is buzzing

The Technology Inside ALEX

Vibration Motor: Provides feedback to users when they adopt poor posture. (This is built into ALEX. You don’t need to rely on your phone for poor posture alerts.)

Tri-Axis Motion Sensor: Measures the angle of your neck in real time and sends data to the companion application.

Bluetooth 4.0 LE: Connects ALEX to the app on your mobile device.

Flash memory: Retains posture data temporarily before syncing with the App.

LED: Indicates power status (on/off), Bluetooth connectivity status, and battery recharging status.

ALEX features extremely precise accelerometers to measure the exact angle of your neck
ALEX features extremely precise accelerometers to measure the exact angle of your neck

Why We Developed ALEX

Our founding team began with an idea of creating something to protect people against the health concerns brought on by prolonged computer and smartphone use. We thought; ‘Protective clothing is available for dangerous work and for sports, so why not when we do other activities that also lead to ill-health?

Our CEO, Jonathan and Co-Founder, Youngjoon, a Biomedical Engineering Professor, spent years finding a solution that really addresses the shortcomings of other posture wearables.

The design process
The design process

We also wanted to create something that would resolve poor posture in the long term, rather than provide a quick fix through short term pain relief. The idea is that once ALEX coaches you to better posture, you’ll develop muscle memory and no longer need to wear it.

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Where We Are In Development

We began designing the technology for ALEX around two years ago. By late 2014 we were able to track poor posture using this technology and began work to bring it to life.

Through numerous iterations we’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that ALEX tracks posture with precision, looks and feels great and makes a positive long term impact on health.

Timeline of the life of ALEX
Timeline of the life of ALEX

We’re proud of how much we’ve achieved. We have been testing market-ready prototypes and have completed development of the complimentary smartphone app. Finally we’re ready for production and we’re excited to partner with the Kickstarter community to kick off production. You can be one of the first to try ALEX yourself, with delivery to backers scheduled for May 2016.

ALEX packaging (not final)
ALEX packaging (not final)

The Team behind ALEX

Our CEO, Jonathan Kim, founded NAMU (Korean for “tree”) along with long-time friend Youngjoon Chee. Jonathan has nearly 20 years of experience working in technology, finance and healthcare. Over time these three disciplines merged and he brings his vast experiences into NAMU.

Co-founder Youngjoon is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Ulsan in South Korea, and earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Seoul National University.

ALEX can easily be folded to save space
ALEX can easily be folded to save space

ALEX Specifications

Materials & weight

  • Sensor case : Skin wearable bio-compatible (ABS) Legs : Squeezable and stretchable (Silicon with metal wire inside)
  • Total weight: 25g
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Battery 

  • Lithium Polymer (110mAh)
  • Up to 7 days (10hours per day) on single charge.
  • Zero to fully charged in 2 hours.
  • Charges using standard micro USB cable 5pin (5V, 1A)

Memory

  • Up to 4 weeks of posture data storage.
  • Lifetime posture data storage in the cloud.

 Compatible Devices

  •  Compatible with iOS and Android with Bluetooth (BTLE)

Support the project on Kick Starter

Raffaele Schiavullo
the authorRaffaele Schiavullo
ADMINISTRATOR - Senior 3D/Virtual Reality Specialist and Automotive HMI developer - Working in London and "insanely" passionate about technology and its creative applications