With the pandemic, classes and work have switched to a remote setting. As a result, people are spending more time than ever sitting down in front of a computer screen. Sitting for long periods also often leads to slouching and an improper back posture which can lead to issues such as pain in the back and neck. This led to the idea of creating a device which can help maintain a good back posture while sitting.

What it does

This device constantly checks your back posture and reminds you to fix your back posture when necessary. In addition, it can connect to a phone app and inform you about the percent of time for which you were in a correct position and suggest tips on how to improve your posture.

How I built it

A MPU 6050 gyro sensor was used to measure the position of the back with respect to the ground. A range of angles representing a good back posture were found and a program was written in the Arduino IDE to check whether the current back posture is ideal. The check was done every second and if more than 3 in 5 seconds were at a bad posture, a warning was displayed using an LED light and a 16x2 LCD. A simple phone app was made using the MIT app inventor and used to display information from an Arduino HC05 bluetooth module on the percent of time for which the user was in a bad sitting position and also to display one of the three messages "Great posture today!", "Your posture was good today. Some further improvement is still possible" or "Please try improving your posture" depending on the percentage.

Challenges I ran into

There were some issues with the gyro sensor data getting stuck after a few seconds due to an issue with the program. The bluetooth communication also required some troubleshooting to get the correct stream of data and have it display in the same format on the phone. Finally the 16x2 LCD required trying various resistance values for the pin which controls the contrast of the display.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Getting a fully functional device which has real world potential.

What I learnt

Algorithms for detecting when your posture is not straight with a gyro sensor and bluetooth serial communication.

What's next for StraightenUp!

The device can be made into a printed circut board and be made into a small attachment including a smaller Arduino and a LiPo battery for it to be powered by. This will allow for it to be directly placed on your back without the need of any external wires and act as a standalone device. In addition, a graphing feature can be added in the app to see how your posture was at various times. Finally there can be different ranges of angles to detect multiple levels of seating position to give more specific recommendations on how to improve your posture further.

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