Usually it’s parents who remind their kids to sit up straight. It worked the other way around for Oded Cohen, CEO of UpRight. He was always trying to help his mother, and himself, to stop slouching. Her poor posture caused her back pain, and this troubled him to the point that he founded a startup and invented a device to cure a problem shared by millions.

The UpRight wearable training device, embedded with dual sensors, attaches to your lower back with hypoallergenic adhesive strips and gently vibrates every time you slouch. The company claims that wearing UpRight less than an hour a day will train your muscles and mind to sit and stand upright after only two or three weeks of use.

An optional companion mobile app for Android and iOS generates a customized training program offering real-time feedback, posture analytics, statistics, tips and techniques.

“From a young age I was aware of the power of upright posture and was frustrated by the fact that my beautiful mom and I suffered from ‘slouchiness’ and there was nothing we could do about it,” says Cohen.

“Posture is personal. It’s a way for people to open up and be their best self, which is why we honed in on the term ‘UpRight.’ Whether the goal is to appear taller or thinner, avoid back pain, be healthier or just battle the negative effects of sitting all day, people will relate to the device in their own way,” he adds.

The device is launching after a successful Indiegogo campaign. Photo courtesy of UpRight
The device is launching after a successful Indiegogo campaign. Photo courtesy of UpRight

Launched in September last year after an Indiegogo campaign that raised $155,244 in one month (the goal was $70,000), UpRight has pre-sold more than 3,000 devices through its website to customers all around the world. It has had two private funding rounds and will formally go on the market in September, UpRight marketing manager Shani Singer tells ISRAEL21c. The suggested retail price is $129.

UpRight was a finalist in the WT Wearable Technologies Innovation World Cup 2015, was featured in the Top 10 of Engadget’s Insert Coin competition, and took second place in the Credit Suisse startup competition in Israel last December.

Top cause of back pain

“Our target audience is huge,” says Singer. “Statistics show back pain is the No. 1 reason to miss work, and bad posture is the No. 1 reason for back pain. It’s a hot topic.”

Cohen wanted to create something smart, simple and discreet, “unlike a brace on which you become dependent,” says Singer. “He wanted to find something that would mold your memory to stand up straight and let you see results quickly.”

Cohen formerly lived and worked in Kenya, Thailand, Taiwan, Nigeria and Germany, before returning to his native Israel, and has held a range of executive positions including managing a business incubator in Israel.

“Poor posture causes all kinds of health problems. People don’t realize the effect of posture on all our organs.”

He developed UpRight with a team including medical advisers Dr. Daniel Kraft, chair of medicine at Google’s Singularity University benefit corporation, and physical therapist Youssef Masharawi, a senior lecturer at Tel Aviv University’s School of Health Professions.

The Tel Aviv-based company has a staff of eight and outsources its manufacturing to China. UpRight’s only direct competitor is Lumo Lift, a clip-on device and app made by Lumo Bodytech in California. “What differentiates us from the rest of the market is that UpRight tells you with real-time accuracy how to improve your posture,” says Singer.

It is not surprising that more than one company is addressing the problem. Posture specialist Tova Goldfine, a doctor of chiropractic and rehabilitation in Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, explains that most of us spend too much time in forward flexion, hunched over computers and smartphones.

“Poor posture causes all kinds of health problems. People don’t realize the effect of posture on all our organs,” Goldfine tells ISRAEL21c. “The body has 12 systems, and each is directly related to the muscles, meaning structure affects function. When we stand and sit straight, we are toning a dozen sets of muscles. So when this instrument tells me to stand up straight, that’s a wonderful thing. We need tools to help us with behavior change.”

Goldfine says the UpRight device should be used as intended, as a temporary training aid. “The goal should always be to train ourselves to have proper posture without the machine. If you look better, feel better and breathe better, that’s the real reward. This is better than any pill.”

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