LUMOback Creators Want to Help You Stand Taller (Video)

Lumoback

Mother always said to sit up straight. Now there’s an app and connected hardware device that can help you do just that. And it has been selling, according to the product’s makers, which first shipped their devices in January.

This $149 wireless posture gizmo, LUMOback, comes in the form of a black band that is worn around the lower back, which has a sensor that vibrates when the wearer slouches. Connected wirelessly to Apple iOS devices, it then has an avatar that tracks posture and daily activities in real time.

LUMOback is in the genre of a number of devices around the “quantifiable self” category, such as Fitbit, Jawbone, MyFitnessPal, Pebble Watch and other products. LUMOback, run by the startup LUMO BodyTech, is different in that it goes beyond the traditional quantitative apps and includes real-time actionable feedback.

It also is part of tackling the United States’ $50 billion per year back-pain costs for medical care, workers compensation payments and time lost from work. Back pain is the second most common reason for missed work, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports.

Monisha Perkash, the CEO and co-founder of LUMO BodyTech, said the concept for the product came together during her time at Google’s Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors incubator two years ago.

Perkash and her team, co-founders Andrew Chang and Charles Wang, who is a doctor, were tasked with launching a bold idea that would have positive impact on the world. While they weren’t sure where to start, they did hope to leverage their health and innovation backgrounds.

“A light bulb went off for us when Andrew took posture lessons and noticed improvement in his back pain,” Perkash said. “At scale, we realized we could impact millions of people around the world [with a back product]. It empowers people to take better control of their lives.”

Perkash was pre-med during her undergraduate studies at Yale University and her husband, a sports and spine physician, had directed her co-founder Chang to the posture lessons.

“The hardest part about posture is awareness and that’s why we have the vibration when you aren’t sitting up straight,” Perkash said. “Sitting is the new smoking. You could be a marathon runner and still shaving years off your life [if you’re sitting all day, too]. For people who are office bound, what small changes can you make in the moment to sit better?”

Perkash said the mass number of back pain sufferers is rooted in our hunter-gatherer pasts.

“You think about how our bodies were designed to move,” she said. “We’ve devolved into a sedentary culture. No wonder this causes problems with biomechanics, tension and headaches. LUMOback reminds you to take more breaks and if you’re going to sit, to sit better.”

In 2012, LUMO BodyTech raised $200,503 in pre-orders of their product via Kickstarter. This was more than $100,000 the goal amount, with around 1,600 sponsors. AllThingsD reported on the $5 million of Series A funding they received back in December.

The company said it has increased its customer base by 120 percent year to date, and are on a path to increase the customer base by well over 700 percent by the end of the year.

Perkash said they hope to evolve and give more insight into the data and that posture is a great starting point for explaining breathing, digestion, core strength and other areas.

Perkash, who emigrated from Nepal to Texas around the age of 5 years old, is no stranger to startups. She sold her first company, TuitionCoach, to SimpleTuition in 2009, and said she caught the entrepreneur bug while in the midst of TuitionCoach.

“I love starting from nothing,” she said. “I think it’s important to know that you can’t get too sucked into the highs and lows of running a startup.”


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus