Want better posture? Let your Webcam spy on you

Israeli researchers develop program that uses Webcams to alert desk workers to how they are sitting vs. how they should be sitting, and say it works better than conventional ergonomic training.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

It's not just your mom who's telling you to sit up straight anymore.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel have developed a new training method that uses Webcam imaging to tell workers sitting at computers when their posture needs a boost.

In their six-week study of 60 university and hospital workers using the Webcam pop-up photo method, the researchers report in the journal Applied Ergonomics that while traditional ergonomic training and photo training both resulted in short-term improvements in posture, only the Webcam approach resulted in longer-term gains, and it had the most impact on women,

"[Our] system provides the worker with continual feedback on their working habits using their own photos that pop up on their personal computer screen," says Meirav Taieb-Maimon of the school's department of information systems engineering. "This gives real-time feedback on their working posture as they contrast the photo of their current sitting style with the photo of themselves sitting in the recommended ergonomically correct position that they were taught at the beginning of the experiment."

Those speed signs on the shoulders of highways come to mind; there's nothing like seeing how fast you're actually driving--coupled with that nagging feeling that you're being observed--to slow you down.

Of course, such an approach will only work on those who actually want to improve posture; if they don't, the images comparing ideal posture versus current posture could simply be too annoying. My current position--right foot on chair, right knee under chin, arms around leg to reach the keyboard--might be poor enough to break the system.

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