Are you tired of nagging your children to sit up straight and stop slouching over their smartphones, tablets and other gadgets? Spending hours hunched over their devices while playing games, many youngsters today are at risk of developing harmful posture problems such as tech neck or Gameboy disease. A Vancouver-based company called Medical Wearable Solutions has developed a possible solution to the problem with a new gadget that monitors the wearer's posture and encourages them to sit up straight.
Dr. Vahid Sahiholnasab, one of the company's founders, first noticed the issue when his daughter began complaining about neck pain, which he says was due to poor posture. He told 24 hours Vancouver that because children's bones are still malleable, poor posture at such a young age can lead to more serious issues in the long run when their bones become firmer. He also said that children suffering from herniated discs have not been seen on such a wide scale in over a century.
"The last time it [was as common] was during the Industrial Revolution in England when kids were working in factories," Dr Sahiholnasab said. "But it's coming back again because kids are basically hunching forward, making their spinal tissue soft and poor."
Dubbed the EyeForcer, the colourful, lightweight glasses are designed to work with a companion Android app that encourages a child to maintain a proper posture. The glasses sort of look like the Google Glass without lenses, it is fitted with a Bluetooth radio, an accelerometer and a battery pack.
Once your child starts to slouch or their head begins to dip too low, the accompanying app sends warning messages, prompting the user to straighten up. After five warnings, the program they are using shuts down, interrupting whatever they were doing.
"Early feedback on prototypes showed that children respond very quickly to the EyeForcer's notifications," the firm claimed on its KickStarter page."When you ask kids to do something – like sit up straight – they don't always listen. But the EyeForcer gives them the independence to correct their posture on their own – because it gives them more playing time."
You can also customise the app to make it as strict or forgiving as you would like by programming the number of warnings you wish to receive before the program you are using shuts down.
Even when the glasses are removed, users will continue to receive warnings about poor posture causing the app to shut down and interrupt whatever they are doing. While the device is primarily aimed at children, it could prove useful for those who spend hours hunched over computers at work or constantly find themselves staring down at phones or tablets all day.
In 2015, the British Chiropractic Association found that around 50% of young people suffered from neck or back pain due to the "sedentary epidemic" sweeping Britain and long hours spent sitting down whilst looking at a laptop or computer, mobile technology, gaming or watching TV. Within a year, the number of 16 to 24 year olds who suffer from neck or back pain rose to 60%.
The EyeForcer works on both Android and iOS devices. However, the app cannot shut down programs on iOS devices "due to Apple's restrictions". The wearable costs $120 (£83) and is slated to begin shipping in November 2016. A KickStarter campaign has raised CA $16,673 (£9,088) backed by 15 people so far with 27 days to go to reach its $200,000 goal.