A posture app gets straightened out.

Posture correction has a long track record — from braces to ergonomic seats to yoga. In the form of a wearable fitness tracker with an app that monitors your posture throughout the day, Lumo Lift falls in line with these developments recording your distance and measuring your spine’s alignment via sensor technology.

So I wondered what this device could introduce to the conversation. It is a beautifully designed, lightweight, and unobtrusive product that clasps to your clothing near your collarbone. It syncs the data that’s recorded from your activity throughout the day via Bluetooth, providing you with a picture of your posture-correcting progress.

I tested the Lift with a few users because it has great potential for solving such a common problem. Unfortunately, both the app and product fell short in delivering a great experience that would guide and motivate users to change their habits. Here’s what I learned and how I would solve those problems.

Use a product’s form to clearly communicate its function.

Unpackaged wearable device with charger and magnetic clasps

The Lumo Lift’s biggest strength is its simple and aesthetically pleasing form. What is lacking however are visual cues that can help assure the user that the product is working or being used correctly. A well-designed product should be easily understood and clearly express its function through its form, but it was difficult to know how to wear the device without referencing the manual or Internet resources.

In its packaging, the metallic clasps used for clipping the device to your clothes could have been aligned with the device to help users understand the device’s correct orientation. Instead of displaying how many components are being sold, showing how the pieces fit together and taking advantage of the strong magnets to secure the device could have solved for understanding the relationship between the device and the clips.

Furthermore, when initially charging the magnetic device, the two parts easily snapped together, which users would expect to be an indicator that the device is correctly engaged and charging. However, the symmetrical and magnetic form allowed it to be snapped into place upside down without touching the metal pins and completing a circuit. Asymmetry in the form to ensure the correct orientation or a battery light indicator of the charging status would have helped avoid confusion.

Use an interactive demo to teach how the app and product work together. Collect data that can inform realistic goals.

After a difficult unpacking process and installation of the app, I followed a step-by-step guide to wearing and using the Lumo. But because the instruction manual and app guide content were minimal, both myself and the other users quickly turned to the Internet to read FAQ’s and watch videos to understand how to properly wear the device, set goals, align the device to their posture target, and decode what the device’s varied vibrations signify.

Proposed interactive demo and data collection to help the user

Walking users through how to wear the device, set their goals and optimize their posture for alignment through a step by step interactive demo is key to device introduction. In addition, demonstrating how their actions impact the data in the app’s interface through call-outs or a guide would have made the interface easier to use.

When collecting information, the app could have avoided collecting irrelevant information like the user’s weight. Instead, collecting information about age, height, and lifestyle could help create a unique database that could inform users of realistic goals based on averages of similar users.

Avoid critical coaching reminders and create dynamic goals.

Current design vs. Proposed Solution

Once a goal was set, users found them difficult to reach and the coaching reminders a constant nuisance throughout the day. Coaching reminders are time limits set by the user where the device would vibrate if the user was slouching for that length of time. The reminders are recommended to be set for 2 minutes of continuous bad posture for new users.

Users could have been slowly eased into their larger 4 hour good posture goal via shorter and attainable goals. As a user continues to use the device, goal adjustments should be recommended based on your progress and could be adaptive based on the data being recorded over time.

Teach habits through positive and negative feedback loops.

Different states showing dynamic feedback to encourage and teach users

If you slouch for too long, you will get buzzed by the device, but when you correct your posture goal there is no indication that you’ve done something good. Users’ confidence dropped when only being notified for mistakes and a few users I tested took the device off out of frustration. Within the device, the Lumo could have had lighter feedback that was less aggressive.

To help motivate users within the app, having clear color indicators or messages to reward users for having good posture would make them feel better and motivate them to continue the behavior. Instead of making coaching mode only about the device vibrations, the app could utilize the lock screen and allow the app interface to provide helpful information.

Help teach attainable posture goals through data collection.

Posture is a topic that many users would not know the correct metrics of, so it was something of a mystery as to why the posture goal recommendation of 4 hours a day where 40% of the hour was spent in “good” posture should be the norm, and what that meant. It turns out Lumo bases that number on the average of their entire user base, but they have the opportunity to make that number more personal by using information collected in the onboarding phase — including the user’s age, gender and height.

Recording information like job setting or activities performed throughout the average work day or weekend, could help users set more attainable, personalized, and adaptable goals. By introducing more effective information collection during onboarding, users are more likely to feel that they are working towards understandable and personal goals. Instead of defining a good posture hour as an hour where 40% of it was spent in good posture, the app could simply record total time within a day that the user had good posture. There’s no need to introduce percentages when time is easier to digest and better understood as a metric of success.

Create clear data visualizations with information hierarchy.

Current design vs. Proposed Solution

The current app overcomplicates graphics by showing information for both the posture and step functions in the same data visualization and on the same screen.

The app could benefit from separating those two unrelated data points and designing graphics specific to each function. By simplifying the interface for separate posture and step graphics, the information could be better digested and specific to the data the user is interested in at the time.

Use social integration as motivation.

Allowing for users of the device to link to other users in their social circles would be beneficial. Currently, the app allows for connection to a separate app, MyFitnessPal, which was overly complicated. Giving the user the ability to link to other users or providing the option to share daily or weekly achievements of goals attained or distances travelled via social media would motivate users, create more relatable goals, and increase brand recognition.

Conclusion

One of the biggest challenges of any wearable is long-term engagement and impacting behavior change. Even though product adoption may be high, continued engagement can drop because the user experience of the device is not motivating enough, does not present the relevant or easily digestible information, and does not create a sound goal setting and goal reinforcement loop. In the end, users I tested were more focused on their fear of getting buzzed, rather than feeling positively about the device and themselves. The Lumo Lift’s main selling point is feeling more confident, and it has the potential to do so if it maximizes the opportunities within the app and physical form to motivate and keep its users interested and informed.

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