Upright posture training wearable review

What’s that buzzing nag at the base of your spine? It’s Upright, a wearable that trains your posture!

Upright will get you to sit up straight like Mother always wanted, but it won't be pleasant.
Upright will get you to sit up straight like Mother always wanted, but it won't be pleasant.
Upright will get you to sit up straight like Mother always wanted, but it won't be pleasant.

Highs

  • Successfully corrects posture
  • Easy setup

Lows

  • Uncomfortable buzzing
  • No standing support
  • Expensive

DT Editors' Rating

Are you slouching? Right now, as you read this, does your spine form the letter C? You’re not alone.

We all slump from time to time, but bad posture can lead to strains and backache. We all know we’re not supposed to slouch, but most of us are stuck sitting at a desk for eight hours every day, and it’s easy to slip into bad habits.

Enter Upright, a wearable device that’s designed to retrain you. This digital nag has good intentions, but we soon found out that the pursuit of good posture is no fun at all.

We all slump from time to time, but bad posture can lead to strains and backache.

Upright comes packaged in a neat box with a cute wireless charging cradle, a stack of adhesive pads, and some alcohol wipes. It’s a small, white plastic device that’s about five inches tall and a couple of inches wide. Before you can use it, you have to download the Android or iOS app onto your phone or tablet and connect it to your Upright via Bluetooth.

It’s easy to set up, and the app is very well designed, giving you clear, simple, step-by-step instructions to follow. The app prompts you to feel for the gap on your back between the bottom of your rib cage and the top of your pelvis; that’s the sweet spot for Upright. Flip it over and attach an adhesive pad to the Velcro strip, then peel off the paper and stick it directly onto your back (60 of these adhesive pads come in the box). You can use an alcohol wipe first if you need to.

Once it’s attached you’ll have to calibrate it. The app prompts you to sit up straight and then to slouch, so sensors inside the Upright can record your posture positions; a smart learning algorithm adjusts to your specific back. Unfortunately, you have to perform this calibration step every time you use Upright, because you might not put it on exactly the same spot. It’s a bit of a chore, and on a couple of occasions it failed to detect my slouched position for no apparent reason. I turned it off and on again to reset things.

The Upright app generates a training schedule for you. Over 24 days, you’ll be asked to gradually increase the time you use Upright each day from five minutes up to an hour, though you can put in some overtime if you choose to.

So here’s the heart of it all: Every time you slouch, the Upright vibrates. If you look at the app you’ll also see your training period counting down and you get a happy green face for good posture, which changes to orange for a slight slouch, and then an unhappy red face when you let go into full-on slump.

Sure, you can easily forget you’re wearing Upright once it’s attached, but you’ll soon be reminded when it vibrates. It’s a bit like having a small robot with a cattle prod sitting behind you, watching for the slightest slump so it can jolt you back to the land of good posture. There’s a whiff of joyless future about it, where our every move is observed and corrected by our robotic overlords. It also gives you a fright when you’re focused on a piece of work and your back suddenly buzzes.

In short, it’s not pleasant.

So why endure this thing?

There are some solid reasons to gut it out through the unpleasantness Upright puts you through. Good posture keeps joints and bones aligned correctly, using your muscles in the most efficient way. Sit properly and you’ll feel less tired at the end of the day. There’s even evidence that posture affects the way we feel, boosting confidence levels. Besides, sitting up straight really does make you more attentive.

Do you really want the electronic posture police on your back?

I’m a great candidate for Upright: I tend to lose my awareness of the physical world when I’m focused, and I can easily find myself in ridiculously contorted positions when I next think to check. Through the first few days using the device, I found my back aching as it adjusted to sitting up straight. After about a week the aches eased off, but I felt genuine dread at the prospect of putting it on. More than once, when it buzzed me out of a thought and sent my heart racing, I had to resist a strong urge to rip the Upright off my back and throw it out the window.

Beyond my general dislike of being interrupted and prodded, there are some other problems with Upright. For a start, it works only for sitting positions, so there’s no training for standing up. This isn’t very clear from the website and general advertising, which depicts people standing wearing it. Apparently the makers are working on a standing mode, but currently it’s not there.

This is also not a wearable that’s designed to be worn all day. You wear it for short corrective bursts as it attempts to reprogram your posture. And it works, because I have developed a fear of the buzz that kicks in now, even when I’m not wearing it. If I detect myself slouching, I automatically readjust, but just how deeply embedded that is in my mind and how long it will last remains to be seen.

For men, there’s another issue to consider with Upright. The adhesive pad stops working if your back sweats and the Upright can no longer detect your slouch correctly. It’s also very good at tearing out back hair, so you might want to wax or shave — a tiny, smooth square on your lower back tends to stand out.

Warranty information

There’s a standard one-year warranty for defects, but Upright takes no responsibility for any injury or damage that might occur. The company states that “the product is provided for personal use only and does not provide or constitute professional, medical or paramedical advice of healthcare services and must not be relied on as such.”

Conclusion

Bad posture is a genuine problem and it’s not something you can correct efficiently by conscious effort alone, simply because we slouch when we aren’t thinking about it. Upright definitely works, at least while you’re using it. The buzzes remind you to sit up straight and there’s a phantom effect, even after you’ve taken it off. But with a $130 price tag, you’re going to have to be seriously concerned about your posture to take the leap.

There’s also no getting away from the fact that it’s a chore to use. Do you really want the electronic posture police on your back? If you’ve reorganized your desk and bought a good quality chair, and your posture is still poor, maybe you’ll be willing to endure some reprogramming.

But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Mobile

Join the Apple club with our complete guide to switching from Android to iOS

If Android simply isn’t cutting it for you anymore, then you might be considering Apple’s warm embrace. Here’s how to make the switch from Android to iOS without losing your contacts, sleep, or hair!
Home Theater

Here’s why you’re not getting Netflix in HD or 4K, and how to fix it

Are you having trouble watching your favorite movies or TV shows on Netflix in HD or 4K? We explain why loading takes so long, why the picture quality fluctuates, and what you can do about it.
Smart Home

Slip on Soma’s smart bra and you may discover you’ve been wearing the wrong size

You might think you know your bra size, but it’s probably wrong. Instead of a tape measure, Soma wants you to try on its Somainnofit smart bra, which takes measurements at four points and has an app that recommends better-fitting bras.
Mobile

The best CES 2019 health gadgets combat stress, pain, and more

We can all use some help with our health and CES 2019 was packed with intriguing devices designed to combat pain and stress, help you monitor blood pressure, reduce tinnitus, and care for the sick or elderly.
Mobile

VisionCheck might give you the option to ditch your visit to your optometrist

A new gadget enables you to test your eyes yourself at home. Using the EyeQue VisionCheck, an automated optical device, you can measure your eyes' refractive error and find out what strength of glasses you need.
Product Review

Garmin’s 4G LTE VivoActive 3 keeps you safe when you’re out on the trails

Garmin takes its already great VivoActive 3 Music fitness smartwatch and adds a 4G LTE connection, courtesy of Verizon. The watch now has streaming music, independent GPS, and best of all, SMS support and various safety features. We’ve…
News

Digital Trends Top Tech of CES 2019 Award Winners

5G. A.I. Voice assistants. Metaverse. Yes, metaverse. CES 2019 slathered on the buzzwords thick and heavy, but beneath the breathless hype and bluster, there were amazing products to back it up, too. Except metaverse. C’mon Nissan, you…
Deals

Want to eat healthy in 2019? 10 everyday kitchen products from Walmart can help

If 2019 is the year you curb your delivery habit and start getting intimate with your kitchen. After all, you want to eat well. The only problem is that you’re not sure how to begin. Here are some fantastic kitchen products to aid your…
Emerging Tech

This energy-generating treadmill cuts your waistline and your power bill

Fitness equipment maker SportsArt was on hand at CES 2019 with its latest piece of sustainable sports equipment - the electricity-generating Verde G690 treadmill.
Emerging Tech

Stomach implant device uses jolts of electricity to fight obesity

An implant created at the University of Wisconsin-Madison could help fight obesity by attaching to users' stomachs and then suppressing feelings of hunger using jolts of electricity.
Deals

Before buying a Fitbit or Apple Watch, check out these fitness trackers under $50

Fitbit and Apple Watch are top of the line when it comes to fitness trackers but if you want to save, we have alternatives. If 2019 is the year you keep track of your health and budget your expenses, then take a look at these fitness…
Product Review

One breath into this device could change what you eat forever

Anyone living with a food intolerance knows the pain — literally and figuratively — of dealing with it, and even identifying what the cause of the problem is. The FoodMarble Aire wants to solve this, and we took a closer look at CES…
Health & Fitness

Futuristic mask filters out air pollution for cyclists and runners

A concern for cyclists in urban environments is staying safe from airborne pollutants. A cycling mask shown off at CES 2019 could help combat this problem by blocking out air pollution to keep cyclists' lungs clear as they ride.