This Posture Gadget Shamed Me Into Sitting Straighter But Im Still a Gargoyle

You can now quantify how slouchy you are.
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)

I’ve always been a sloucher. It’s impossible to be a tech blogger, curled over a keyboard most hours of the day, and not have terrible posture. I only realized how big of a problem it was after a recent yoga class. While lying down in corpse pose, the class instructor walked past, looked at my shriveled body, and murmured a skeptical ‘Hmm.’ Without warning, she leaned over and pressed down on my shoulders. There was a loud cracking noise as my upper body finally lay flat against the mat. “There you go!” she said. I was mortified.

Hence why I decided to try the Upright 2 Go. I’ve seen tons of ads for similar gadgets and back braces, but now I finally felt the urgency in fixing my horrible posture. I wasn’t interested in a brace—some of those seemed like a lot to wear under your clothes and I wanted something more discreet. The Upright 2 Go is a tiny, thumb-sized device that adheres to your skin. You stick it between your shoulders, or in my case, my upper back right under my neck. When you slouch, it vibrates. But there’s also a smart component to the Upright 2 Go. Via a companion app, you can track whether you’re slouching in real-time, as well as view your stats over time.

At $100 for a single device, it’s right in that weird zone of just expensive enough to feel like a scam, but cheap enough that if you might be willing to take the risk depending on how desperate you are. That’s especially true since posture correctors aren’t super expensive—you can easily find cheap ones on Amazon for under $20. Before trying the Upright 2 Go, I also had concerns regarding the skin adhesive. Was it super sticky? Not sticky enough? The last thing I’d want is to spend $100 and have this thing fall off while walking around without me noticing. Also, while vibration alerts sounded helpful, I was wary it might get super distracting.

Out of the box, the Upright 2 Go is fairly straightforward to set up. You download the app, you turn the device on, and go through that familiar rigamarole of pairing a Bluetooth device. Once that’s done, you can peel the adhesive’s cover off and stick it on your back to calibrate your posture. The app warns you not to stand “too straight” while setting posture—a process you have to do every time you put on the device—as it will cause you to overextend yourself. From there, you can choose whether you want to take part in stationary, standard, or active training based on whether you mostly sit or stand during the day. There are also two posture modes to choose from: training and tracking. The former is the one where you get vibration alerts. It also gives you a daily goal, aka a target number of minutes where you maintain your ideal posture. That number increases slightly each day. The latter is more passive. In tracking mode, the device will simply monitor and record your posture data, but you won’t get any vibrations.

My Ditto plush is demonstrating the general placement of where on your body you would stick this thing.
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)

Training mode is probably the more useful of the two, but holy crapsticks it’s annoying as hell. Hitting my Day 1 goal of eight minutes was easy. That said, in the roughly three hours I wore the device, it felt like I was getting buzzed every five seconds. That makes sense since the app told me I spent 61 minutes or 35 percent of that time slouching. It did make me more mindful that the deeper I get into a blog, the more I hunch over my laptop. The vibrations did encourage me to sit up straighter, but it also had the unintended effect of taking me out of the zone.

By the second day, I was more prepared. This time I chose a more natural position while calibrating my posture. Over a 2 hour, 20-minute session, I still got buzzed a lot but I could also see my slouch sessions weren’t quite as frequent as the previous day. They were, unfortunately, longer. That said, I managed to improve to only 34 minutes of slouching, or 25 percent overall.

Don’t judge me Ditto. I’m slouching because I needed to take this picture.
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)

That small, incremental improvement continued over the next few days of wearing the device. On my best day, I spent just 14 percent of my day slouched over 8 hours of wear. I also learned that apparently, my posture is just fine when I’m walking around or being otherwise active. I turn into a gargoyle when I’m standing for long periods of time, or sitting at a desk. Not surprising—that’s something common sense could tell me for free. However, I did appreciate that the vibrations made me more mindful of what triggers cause me to slump. As in, I got vibrations whenever I’d lean in to read itty bitty text so I moved my monitor closer and zoomed in on all my browser windows to 150 percent. It helped.

Comfort-wise, when it wasn’t vibrating I forgot it was even there. I woke up one morning to find the Upright 2 Go right next to my pillow because I simply forgot to take it off for the night. So, it probably won’t survive a lot of rolling around or rigorous exercise, but it’s fine for casual daily activities.

As for my adhesive concerns, I was pleasantly surprised. They’re reusable, made from medical-grade silicone, and you get an estimated 3-10 uses out of a single adhesive. Personally, I used the same one for about four days before it started to get gross and lose its stickiness. That said, I never had any problems with the Upright 2 Go falling off, even if I removed and replaced it multiple times per day. To be fair, how effective the adhesives are is probably dependent on individual skin type—I happen to be fairly dry on my back and don’t sweat much. I imagine it wouldn’t work quite as well if you have oilier or sweaty skin unless you took the time to prep with an alcohol pad. (And honestly, at that point it feels more like a hassle.) As for those of us with hairy backs, you should be fine. Out of curiosity, I stuck an adhesive to my hair. It stuck fine and didn’t hurt when I ripped it off.

This is what the adhesive looks like after about 4 days of wear. Look okay, I know it’s groady but at about $1 per adhesive, you best believe I am gonna wear this filthy thing until it doesn’t stick properly anymore.
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)

The thing I dislike most about the adhesives is you’d eventually have to buy new ones. (You only get 10 in the box itself.) It’s easy to do the in the app—there’s a tab for it built-in. One pack costs $10 for 10 adhesives, though it seems you can get a pack for as cheap as $7. Unless your skin is super oily, one pack should last about a month—but having to continually buy adhesives monthly is an annoying little charge. Upright also sells a necklace accessory for $20, but in my professional opinion, it looks too stupid to wear with a straight face.

My other beef is that while yes, the Upright 2 Go helped me sit straighter, it’s also another device I have to remember to charge and wear. It was nice for a week, but long term, I don’t know how easy it would be to stick with. I’ve already forgotten to wear it on a weekend day and even with the Upright’s carrying case, this thing is small enough to get lost forever in a bedside drawer. Sure, I got a notification to wear the device every morning, but things happen. Your dog whines for food and you have to run out the door. You forget to charge it one night, and then that spills over to a second night, then a third. (That’s not necessarily the device’s fault, however. It’s just a common problem with getting wearables to stick.) As with all resolutions, you’ll inevitably lose motivation.

Training mode means the device will vibrate when you slouch. If that’s annoying you can opt for the more passive Tracking mode.
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)

Case in point, I’m already losing steam when it comes to improving my posture. Part of me is resigned to the fact that when I write, I will forever be a hunched-over, shriveled-up shrimp. Also, while this device helped me gain some insight into when I slouch, it’s not like it told me anything revolutionary. Duh, of course, I slouch a lot at work! Everybody does! I also found the app lacked a truly meaningful way to measure your progress over time. After a week, the app prompted me to rate how I felt I had progressed. As in, I subjectively graded myself on a scale of 1-10 on my posture and back pain. I think I improved a bit? I don’t know! That’s what the data is supposed to be for! I slouched less, sure. But in terms of overall effectiveness? I’m not convinced this device gives you better results than a brace would—just more graphs and maybe a better sense of when you slouch.

In the most successful example of using this device, you’d hopefully progress to the point where you wouldn’t need it anymore. In that light, $100 plus whatever extra for adhesives feels like too much for a gadget that, for the average person, would be redundant in just a few weeks or months. If your posture is bad for medical reasons, it’s probably more effective to work with a doctor or physical therapist, in which case, a device like Upright 2 Go isn’t a ‘cheaper shortcut’ I’d recommend by itself anyway. I’d be more jazzed about the Upright 2 Go if it were $50 or even $60. As for me, I’ll probably keep this thing at my desk in the office and wear it while writing. At least, I will until I run out of adhesives.

README

  • A thumb-sized gadget that vibrates whenever you slouch. It also keeps stats on how many hours you spend upright versus slouched per day.
  • Sticks to your back with adhesives. Discreet, but buying extra adhesive packs is annoying considering it already costs $100.
  • That said, the adhesives are pretty comfortable.
  • Vibrations can be annoying as hell when you’re trying to focus.