As sedentary lifestyle increases problems of back pain, school students come up with low-cost innovative solution

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June 04, 2021 5:16 PM

Apart from back support, posture correction and massage, a unique feature of the product is that it is a portable product because it is an add-on that can be placed on any chair.

At present, the group has filled out a provisional application to begin the process for acquiring a patent

Solution for back problems: Over the years, there has been an increase in neck and back pain among people due to the sedentary lifestyle, and this issue has only increased during the coronavirus lockdown when everyone switched to a work from home scenario and the lines between work and personal life blurred. However, recognising this issue, four Class X students of Shiv Nadar School, Gurugram, came up with an innovative solution to help people correct their posture. Sparsh Jha, Gayatri Brijesh, Vihaan Motwani and Varnika Motwani came up with a product called ‘Postura’ under the guidance of IT Project Lead at the school Mark Nelson, to address this issue.

Sharing the details of how the team came up with the idea, Sparsh told Financial Express Online’s Bulbul Dhawan, “Every year our school holds. This competition is known as the Capstone project is for all 10th graders across three branches of Shiv Nagar School. What we essentially do here is that we form teams of four to six people and then we must work on a project from scratch. So, for ideas, we find issues in the society and then we try to fix it using technology.”

He added, “We have different stages in the competition when we have to slowly develop our product. It starts with presenting the idea in round one, followed by the second round, where we have to give a brief overview as to how we aim to address the problem. Gradually, we have to begin with prototyping and then, we present the final product. This is also an elimination competition, with teams being eliminated in every round.”

“This is the competition we participated in, and our idea was Postura. We noticed that people around us were facing the problem of a bad posture which led to headaches and backaches. Moreover, everyone was working from home due to the lockdown, so we decided to address the problem of the posture for our Capstone project,” Sparsh added.

“The project was based on general observation regarding this issue because we as students also faced similar problems, like backaches you too long hours of schooling, so we decided to work on this problem,” Varnika, who carried out ideating and designing, added.

Giving details about the technology involved in the product, Mark said, “Every time a person is sitting straight as opposed to when they are slouching, the tilt in the back changes. There is an angle where you can figure out whether somebody is slouching forward or backward. We put in a gyro to calculate that tilt and then, with the help of medical experts, we identified the positions where we have put in our vibrators. So, what this product does is that it calculates the tilt if the user is slouching, and then gives them the haptic feedback required.”

Sparsh, who was involved in making the prototype, selecting the components, researching and presenting, explained the design and working of Postura. “What we have is two cushions – one placed at the user’s back and the other supporting cushion is placed on the chair before the individual sits. While the supporting cushion has no technology involved, the back cushion is where technology has been deployed. We have added a gyro sensor that can calculate the angle at which a person is sitting. We’ve also ourselves put in the medical values for what is correct position and what is not. So if this back angle is incorrect, then the device vibrates in order to inform the individual that their posture needs to be corrected,” he said.

“For adding the vibrations, we have incorporated a device called transducer. We have also added another function of massaging to the product. We noticed that people using such back correctors usually have stiff backs because of having to wear them for a long time. Thus, we thought of incorporating an app-operated massage feature which people can use if they have a stiff back.

Vihaan, who undertook surveying, researching, presenting and making the 3D model, told FE Online about the process of the development of the product. “First, we conducted a survey where we collected the required information, like the point in the back where people usually feel the pain. People know that the pain was usually in the lower part of the back, which was the inspiration behind the product. We then looked at the market and the products available.”

“Once we came up with the design, we gathered resources such as acquiring the shape form by contacting other companies, and then modified the product as per the feedback received during testing of the product,” he added.

He also listed out the challenges they faced while developing the product. “We could not meet physically due to the pandemic, and the lockdown also made out testing phase very short. There were also issues in acquiring the resources. We also had to make the circuit of the product as efficient as possible, while also trying to reduce the cost as much as possible so that customers would want to buy it,” Vihaan said.

Apart from back support, posture correction and massage, a unique feature of the product is that it is a portable product because it is an add-on that can be placed on any chair. This means that users need not invest in big massage chairs that cost a lot. This product, being an add-on latch, has the potential to drastically bring down the cost, Mark said.

Gayatri, who was involved in ideating, app development and presenting, said, “The lower part has been designed in a manner that it can give complete support to the lower back, which means that people can also use just the supporting cushion without needing the upper part of it, using it essentially as a supportive seating product.”

The team has acquired a medical certificate from medical practitioners certifying that the product is not harmful to use. They also tried to keep the cost as low as possible. In a survey of more than 200 participants, the team found that users would like a product not costing more than Rs 3,000, and so, they have currently priced Postura at Rs 2,400, and expect it to reduce further once mass production begins.

At present, the group has filled out a provisional application to begin the process for acquiring a patent, and the team will carry out some modifications, if needed, to receive a patent, only after which they would reach out to manufacturers or companies for large scale production.

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