Posture Patrol

As a result of long hours spent hunched over in front of computers, we decided to investigate ways in which a device can sense “incorrect” posture when a person begins to slouch. In this one day project, we explored bend sensors as detectors of posture, and how we could incorporate our findings into a wearable device called the Posture Patrol that gives user feedback when the back begins to curve in an incorrect position.

By creating a bend sensor using neoprene, conductive fabric, thread, and velostat, we applied the sensor vertically along the back at the point of maximum inflection.  We then attached the wires to a microcontroller concealed in a wristband pocket with an LED light that indicates when the person begins to slouch. When one exhibits the “correct” posture in the upright position, the LED should not be active, but as the he/she loses this posture, the LED should begin to light up due to the feedback being received from the wristband microcontroller.

The Posture Patrol is a useful device for anyone who notices their posture beginning to worsen as a result of long hours at a desk. After many different prototypes using different conductive materials and feedback indicators such as thermochromic ink, we learned that the bend sensor used in this application reacted more as a pressure sensor. By applying it directly to the back along with a layer of thin paper as well as clothes over the top was necessary for the sensor to detect the level of resistance and thus, create output for the LED light.

We also learned that a clean and properly soldered circuit board was of paramount importance when trying to figure out why things weren’t working correctly. A clear sketch of our concept was good to keep us both on the same page in terms of the final product, and having a willingness to experiment with materials was a great way to learn more about conductivity and resistance.