“It’s alright,” I tell the Upright posture trainer, which is attached to the base of my spine. “I’ll do it right this time.”
I’m not looking at the device itself; that would be impossible. Instead, I’m looking at the three smiley-face icons in the thing’s companion app. The green one is lit up now, but I just slipped into yellow for a second before I caught myself, and if it hits the red one — either from me slouching or overextending my back — it will be unpleasant.
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Unfortunately, my posture is not that good, so a moment later, I slip into the red zone, and Upright responds with a sustained, tingling buzzing. It’s not a shock or anything, but it’s pretty unpleasant. I immediately fix my position and hope I don’t anger the buzzer again.
And that’s when I realize that the Upright posture tracker is basically a very mild torture device.
It doesn’t want information or money; it wants you to sit the hell up. Good posture is important, after all — it can prevent a lot of pain and soreness and help with productivity. And Upright is not above delivering the digital-age equivalent of spurs to get you there.
“Upright is a wearable that trains you to sit and stand upright,” the back of the box says. “It attaches to your back and gently vibrates every time you slouch, reminding you to correct your posture.”
Here’s how it works: You stick the thing to your back (a bit more on that later), and then you calibrate your upright and slouched positions. The trainer itself has flexible arms with sensors in them that detect how much they move, and if they stray too far from the “good” position you set in the first step, you get a zap.
If you’ve ever fallen asleep on top of your phone with it set to Vibrate and then received a call, you know what this feels like, and “gentle” is not how I’d describe it. But it definitely gets results. Rather than hunkering down on your skin to monitor you all day like something out of a David Cronenberg film, however, Upright is designed for discreet, focused training sessions of between 15 minutes and an hour a day. You run these through the free companion app that has all of those helpful smileys
And that’s good news because it probably won’t stay on much longer than that. You put it on by cleaning the area with an included alcohol wipe and then sticking on a hypoallergenic adhesive pad. The device then attaches to that using hook-and-loop fasteners. And while the latter attachment is as secure as you’d expect, the on-skin adhesive did not work well for me. It’s probably due to the fact that I’m embarrassingly unsmooth back there, but I’m a man, and it happens.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to get around this without adding a few steps to my daily maintenance. And I don’t think I’m willing to do that just to make it easier for an a-hole gadget to buzz me for slouching. I’ll just be mindful of sitting up, if it’s all the same to Upright.
I think that’s a win for everyone.
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Upright provided Cult of Mac with a free review unit for this article. Read Cult of Mac’s Reviews Policy.