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Break your bad posture habits with Darma, the slouch-sensing smart cushion

If you work in an office environment and spend the majority of your life hunched over in front of a computer screen, we’re willing to bet that your posture is probably atrocious. But not to worry — thanks to an upcoming device from Palo Alto-based startup Darma Inc., you’ll soon be able to leverage technology to help fix the problem.

Over the past couple years, the company has developed a small cushion that sits between your butt and your office chair to monitor your posture. Using an array of embedded sensors that can read where you’re placing your weight, the Darma cushion can reliably discern between when you’re slouching and when you’re postured up.

It’s certainly not the first posture-helping device we’ve ever seen, but it’s arguably the least intrusive we’ve encountered thus far, since it doesn’t require you to strap anything to your torso. Furthermore, it’s also got some additional tech under the hood that you won’t find in posture-focused wearables.

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Alongside the fiber-optic sensors that can tell where you’re putting your weight, Darma also uses a technique known as ballistocardiography (BCG) to measure your heart rate, respiration rate, and movement. With these three data streams, the device can gather an approximate reading of your stress level. If it goes above a certain point, the accompanying smartphone app can be configured to give you a notification, and even guide you through a breathing/relaxation exercise to help you get back on track. We’ve seen BCG tech appear in a few sleep tracking devices before (Beddit, Withings Aura), but this is the first device we know of that puts it to use during your waking hours.

The team behind Darma has been developing the device for the better part of the past five years, and now, after making its way through various tech incubator programs, the company is finally ready to bring the cushion to production. The project has already blasted past its initial $40K funding goal, and is currently sitting at just over $50K with 44 days left in the campaign. If you back the project now, you can lock one down for anywhere from $100 to $190, depending on how early you are. If all goes well, the team plans to ship the first Darma cushions to backers sometime around June of 2015.