Passion Project — SitUp
UX & Product Design, Wearable Design - 2015
Reimagining human interactions in correcting posture
Backstory & the dilemma.
My younger sister, Sherry, is tall, way taller than me. Because of her height, she slouches. Growing up, I have been “that annoying sister” always reminding her to sit up. Over the years, seeing her slouching grow with her as she got older, made me realize how we all have some habits that sometimes we are just not aware of. Habits that can easily avoided. And slouching is one of those habits that can be overcome by training mind and body to be aware of standing, walking, siting, and laying in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and alignments. So when I started learning about wearables and programming different sensors, I designed SitUp, a posture correcting device inspired by, and for, my sister. I wanted to design a digital me that would remind her to sit straight, stand tall, and be more confident.
Tackling the problem.
What is already out there?
To ideate, I started with research. I evaluated direct and indirect competitors, especially posture correcting vests, ergonomic wearables and health apps, in order to asses their primary functionalities, information hierarchy, and user experience design. Also, I studied trends in the tech and medical industry to make sure my design is aligned with where the industry is headed.
Who is the user and why?
Parallel to desk research, I interviewed potential users to understand their behaviors, motivations, and needs. Such conversations made me put the potential users into two big groups: First group are the individuals who are already slouching. For example, teenage girls who slouch to cover their physical changes in their breasts, students who spend most of their time at their desk doing homework, and working professionals who are always on their computers.
Second group entails the individuals who want to be aware of their posture and improve their sitting and walking habits. Their goal is to have a better physical and psychological health, as well as overall physical beauty. As a result of this, I set my persona, Sherry, as the anchor point of my process to always go back to, and check if the design corresponds to her wants and needs.
“When I’m in the zone, I sometimes slouch for hours without even realizing it.”
Is it desirable?
After defining design principles and core functionalities, it was time to design and test. In the building and designing of this product, I had to explore various sensors and outlet. My initial idea was to poke the user, using a servomotor, when they slouched. After testing the prototype with many users, almost all expressed how that poking sensation is too aggressive and intrusive, and how they prefer a more gentle feedback. That led me to using a vibrating motor as the output, which can be programmed with different levels of intensity according to user’s preferences.
My early inspiration of my sister, research learnings and all the gathered insights are summarized in SitUp, an electronic wearable that helps correcting back posture by sending physical and electronic notifications.
Here is how is works.
A vibrating motor - to output the vibration sensation to physically notify the user of the slouched/angled back.
A Lilypad Arduino micro controller - an open-source prototyping platform based on hardware and software. Arduino boards is used to read sensor inputs (acceler- ometer) and turn it into a signal to activate an output (vibrating motor)
An accelerometer - to detect the angle of the back
Battery - to fuel the device
To create the desired functionality & instructions, I used the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring), and the Arduino Software (IDE), based on Processing.
Mobile & Watch application.
SitUp wearable is controlled by an accompanying app which allows the user to access settings and monitor progress. The user experience of the system is designed with the primary users and core functionality in mind. And to validate its desirability, I went back to the same users I have previously interviewed with and tested the device with the app. I constantly iterated the design to make sure the final product is conceptually and visually consistent with what SitUp is all about: direct, easy and simple.
To take this project further, my goal is to investigate how I can develop and scale its functionalities to other areas. Having my sister as the primary user allows me to keep going back to her, along with other people I have been testing with from the very beginning, to validate my ideas, and asses their desirabilities.
SitUp is my final project for the Intro to Wearable Technology course I took at UCLA Extension in fall 2015. Evelyn Masso was our teacher.