Tag Archives: sensors

Toolmaker Talk: Charles Wang (LUMOback)

Stand up. Sit down. Walk. Run. Sleep. We engage in these activities everyday (well, maybe not running), but how much do we know about ourselves and our bodies while we’re in the midst of them? Are you standing up straight? Are you slouching at your desk while you read this sentence? In this Toolmaker Talk we’re going to hear from Charles Wang, one of the founders of LUMOback – a posture sensor and mobile application designed to support back health and improve body awareness.

Watch (or listen to) our conversation with Charles below then make sure to read our short interview to learn more about the story behind LUMOback.

Q: How do you describe Lumoback? What is it?

Charles WangLUMOback is a posture and movement sensor that you wear around your waist.  It gives you real time feedback in the form of a vibration when you are slouching, both when you are standing and sitting.  It also connects wirelessly to a mobile application, where it tracks whether you have been straight or slouching, in addition to sitting, standing, walking, running, and sleep positions.

One key feature of our mobile application is LUMO, the real time avatar.  LUMO mimics what you are doing in real time, and gives you real time visual feedback so that you can understand and be aware of what position your body is in.

Q: What’s the backstory? What led to it?

Andrew Chang, Monisha Perkash, and myself were funded by Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors to find a big problem to solve, and build a growth business around it.  We didn’t have to look very far to find the right opportunity.

Andrew, one of the cofounders, has had chronic lower back pain for the past 11 years, and nothing really seemed to help him.  He went to physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, and tried acupuncture and other minor procedures.  It wasn’t until he learned about postural correction by taking a set of posture classes where he started to understand how critical posture was in alleviating his back pain.  In fact, once he began paying attention to his posture, his back pain significantly improved.

LUMO-product-carousel-0_largeWe as humans were designed through evolution to move, but now we spend most of our time sitting, and in most cases, sitting poorly.  This means that improving posture and encouraging more activity can have significant impact on people’s health and wellbeing.  Studies show that back health and posture are correlated, as is posture and confidence / attractiveness.  It’s no wonder that physical therapists, chiropractors, and spine physicians stress the importance of posture.

The challenge of improving posture is twofold:  1) Most people have very little body awareness, let alone understanding their sitting and standing postures, and 2) Most people don’t have the resources or the time to take posture classes.  This is where we realized that we could use technology to solve this problem, so we started prototyping and iterating, and this is what led us to create LUMOback.

Q: What impact has it had? What have you heard from users?

Users tell us that LUMOback has changed their lives, and either that their back pain has gone away through using the product or has significantly been reduced.  People also frequently tell us that they are now very aware of their slouchy posture, which leads to posture correction, and again, awareness is the key element involved in making postural changes.

Q: What makes it different, sets it apart?

In addition to telling people whether their posture is straight or slouched, we can tell them whether they are sitting, standing, walking, running, and their sleep positions.  The ability to differentiate between sitting and other activities is a clear differentiator for what we do.

LUMOback iOS application

LUMOback iOS application

Q: What are you doing next? How do you see Lumoback evolving?

We are constantly making improvements to LUMOback, from the application experience to the accuracy of our ability to detect different biomechanical states.  We pride ourselves on being open to feedback and are constantly trying to improve and iterate on our product based on what our users tell us.  This is the most exciting part — truly solving problems and needs that people have.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say?

We really are at a point in time now where mobile technologies will help us to solve challenging health problems in ways we couldn’t have imagined even several years ago.  This is what gets the LUMO team super excited!

Product: LUMOback
Website: www.lumoback.com
Price: $149

This is the 19th post in the “Toolmaker Talks” series. The QS blog features intrepid self-quantifiers and their stories: what did they do? how did they do it? and what have they learned?  In Toolmaker Talks we hear from QS enablers, those observing this QS activity and developing self-quantifying tools: what needs have they observed? what tools have they developed in response? and what have they learned from users’ experiences? If you are a toolmaker and want to participate in this series please contact Ernesto Ramirez.

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Temple of Self: A QS Masters Design Thesis

Aarti Vashisht has done some interesting QS-related work for her MFA at Art Center College Design.

She designed some prototype sensors that could be worn on our bodies in the future, and interviewed people to learn their thoughts on how these integrated sensors might impact their lives.

This is an image of the sensors she designed, to be worn across the shoulders and on the wrist, among other places. Take a look at her report here, called Temple of Self.

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Adding Smart Gestures to Everyday Objects and the Human Body

Imagine if you could switch your music track while running just by tapping on your hand or your arm. What if your TV and lights knew when you had fallen asleep and automatically turned off. Or if doorknobs were as smart as your current tablet touchscreen and you could send messages to people before they knock. Anything becomes a programmable sensor. This video, presented at the CHI conference going on now in Austin, completely blew me away this morning. You have to watch this!

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Simon Frid on Wearable Awareness

Simon Frid moved to California last year because his data told him he was smarter here than in New York. Well, not really. But this funny story begins his journey of figuring out how to track one of the simplest things that we don’t generally know about ourselves: our own posture. Simon designed a wearable sensor shirt with ten built-in accelerometers, and was able to improve his posture significantly from December to January. In the video below, he shares how he trained the shirt to recognize good posture, why he didn’t want immediate feedback, and what question he most wants to ask people. (Filmed by the Bay Area QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

Simon Frid – Wearable Awareness from Gary Wolf on Vimeo.

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Alex Grey on Tracking Muscle Data (EMG, ECG)

Alex Grey is developing a better kind of muscle sensor, to help people see their muscle activity patterns and change behaviors like typing or running to be more effective and less painful. The sensors are wireless, stick to your skin, and can measure different kinds of muscle activity including arm/leg (EMG) and heart muscles (ECG). In the video below, Alex describes how he used these sensors to find his optimal stride rate as a runner, as well as to detect when he was starting to fatigue or compensate on one side for an old injury. Fascinating talk with lots of great data! (Filmed by the Bay Area QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

Alexander Grey – Tracking Muscle Data from Gary Wolf on Vimeo.

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Dave Kil on Optimizing Workouts

Dave Kil runs marathons. He has detailed records of all his workouts for the past year and a half. Recently, though, he started feeling that running was getting boring, and he wanted more variety in his workouts. So Dave helped create sensors that can monitor different activities passively, including cycling. He also added high-intensity training and social running to his routine. In the video below, he shows the results on his body fat and muscle mass. (Filmed by the Bay Area QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

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Ted Punt on Contactless Monitoring Systems

Ted Punt talks about a device developed by TNO (Dutch Institute for Applied Science) to measure vital signs from people at a distance of up to 10 meters. Heart rate, body motion, and respiration are measured continuously and wirelessly with this device, which should be on the market within a year. He goes into some technical detail and shows prototype video clips in the talk below. (Filmed at Amsterdam QS Show&Tell #3.)

Ted Punt – Contactless monitoring systems from Quantified Self Amsterdam on Vimeo.

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Sponsoring an Open Source Heart-rate Sensor that Rocks

This is a first for us. At our Bay Area QS Show&Tell meetup this week (slides available here), we had so many wonderful folks donate and buy QS t-shirts that we decided to use the money to fund an exciting project on Kickstarter.

It’s an open hardware project called Pulse Sensor, by Yury Gitman and Joel Murphy. The project tagline is “heart rate beats per minute for Arduino, lickety split.” We happily gave them $600 towards their goal of $3,000, which they have already exceeded. Their Kickstarter page is here, and here’s their awesome video:

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QS Amsterdam Recap #3

It’s been almost 2 months, but on the sixteenth of May we held our third meetup of QS Amsterdam. We moved our venue again to the Waag which kindly offered us their space.

Joost Plattel at QS Amsterdam

Our first speaker was Remko Siemerink who discovered a strange pattern during his summer according to Last.fm. It turns out he stopped listening to music and this could be related to his ‘summer depression’.

Up next was Ted Punt from TNO who talked about a wireless sensor for monitoring body functions such as breathing, heart-rate or movement during sleep. The technology presented users radar accurate up to 1 millimeter, which for a wireless sensor is quite awesome!

Withings presented their new blood-pressure monitor while announcing a new product which focuses on the lives of babies.

Then I gave a short talk about our public transportation system, using a card much like the Oyster-card used in London. I made a small tool that allows people to upload their data and make a heatmap and provide a feedback-loop about their usage. I gave a short insight into the development process and the things I had to do with the data to make it understandable.

Frog Design and Novartis showed a wireless pill used for monitoring speciifc metabolic processes in your stomach related to organ transplantion. The crowd was amazed by the size of the pill and the system used for accessing data. (a simple patch you can stick just under your ribs).

And lastly Victor van Doorn presented his iPhone app, with a really nice design that delivers a diary, but not by writing but GPS signals, twitter updates or photo’s that you upload. The design looked really nice and the app is about to be released into the App Store!

The videos will be released individually on this blog, but you can see them all at http://vimeo.com/qsams/videos

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Announcing: New Sensors and the Frontiers of Self Tracking

With the first QS conference 32 days away, we’re excited to announce that Eric Boyd will give a keynote on “New Sensors and the Frontiers of Self Tracking.”

Eric is an inspiring hacker who constantly pushes the boundaries of what is possible using the latest sensors and tools. A long time member of the Bay Area Quantified Self Show&Tell, he now helps power the Toronto group.

He is an expert in wearable sensory augmentation. Boyd’s “North Paw” project showed us how tracking and feedback can affect our sense of direction. His HeartSpark project exposes the intimacy of heart beat to public view.

In this talk, Boyd is going to give us a tour of the new sensors emerging today that make possible entirely new types of self tracking. We know about accelerometers, gyroscopes, and compasses. Boyd will talk about what’s coming next, and what new forms of self-awareness they may facilitate.

Thanks Eric, see you at the conference!

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