Sound designers, web designers, programmers, writers, googlers, and youtubers sit for hours on end by a computer. As a result, most of us suffer from bad posture! :-(

After getting really fed up with my bad posture, I thought I would write some software to remind me to sit up straight. My application Posture Man Pat started as a joke but actually turned into something really useful, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Posture man Pat

Good/Bad Posture

how does it work?

Very simple, it uses your webcam to track your face on the Y-axis of your screen. If your face drops a certain amount, then it triggers a warning. This software was built in Max/MSP/Jitter. And again, sorry Windows users but it’s a Mac-only software. If there is lots of interest, I will see if I can get someone to compile it for Windows.

Screen shot 2010-06-22 at 12.47.28 PM

getting started

1. Make sure your camera is switched on, you should be able to see yourself in the yellow screen at the bottom.

2. If you can’t, then press [cam settings] to change the input.

3. If you are using an external camera, make sure it is facing you.

4. Make sure there is enough light on your face.

5. Get yourself into a good posture.

6. Press spacebar or the big yellow button.

7. If you adjust camera position, make sure to press space bar again.

warning settings

Screen shot 2010-06-22 at 12.43.56 PM1. The volume slider affects the volume of the warning bell.

2. The [test] button allows you to test the warning bell and/or flash.

3. With the radio buttons, you can choose whether you want the warning to consist of just a sound, a flash, or both. You can also choose to have it all together off.

4. If you’re having audio issues or it is interfering with other programs, go to settings > audio settings and choose the right settings from there.

tip

The warning sound and/or flash only triggers once per bad posture. If you stay in your bad posture it will not go off again. However, once you correct your posture, Posture Man Pat will arm itself again and be ready to warn you.

credit

Huge thanks to Jean-Marc Pelletier for his incredible work on the cv.jit objects for Max/MSP. Also, thanks to Masayuki Akamatsu for building the aka.objects that allows Max/MSP to interface with the Mac.

feedback

Please let me know if there are problems. Considering how different each system is,  I can’t test everything. I would love to hear some feedback. For instance, on my machine, the Google camera for my G-chat takes over my webcam, so I have to reset it every now and then. I have also kept the settings to a minimum to avoid complicating things, if you think I should allow for more tracking options, please post a comment.


17 Responses to “Posture Man Pat {+ software}”  

  1. 1 samuel fisher

    Wonderful wonderful software. Last summer I had to go to the back and neck clinic multiple times a week all because of the posture I had developed from sitting, shoulders forward, at the computer. I also firmly believe that good posture and the good breath that comes with it is a genuine boon to creative thought, whereas bad posture is detrimental. This App is for real! Good computer posture is very important to computer-using people. What you should REALLY do is begin emailing it to spinal doctors and spine/ neck health associations, anyone who blogs on the topic especially, anyone who would realize the utility of this a medical resource and publicize it. Doing that could really make this application a real success story. There are a lot of people out there who would want something like this. Great ideas are rare, and usually accidental, and I think that this is just such an great idea. Good luck!

  2. 2 Andrew Spitz

    Hi Samuel, thanks so much for this comment! It’s really good to hear that it’s useful. I’m very sorry to hear you had to go through all these problems, but I’m glad that Posture Man Pat is helping you out! I should email the link to health blogs and stuff, but right now I don’t even have time to chew my food! In my next downtime I will. Take care!

  3. 3 Nabha

    Hi Andrew, for what it is worth, I would love to use this on a PC, which I what I use in my office.

    I’d be glad to make a donation for it (if you accept donations). The closest thing I could find to it on a PC — something called PostureMinder — is more than I’d like to spend.

    I’ve been wanting to improve my posture for literally *years* — and this might a way to make it actually happen.

  4. 4 Andrew Spitz

    Hi Nabha, thanks for the interest. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond but your comment went into my spam folder and I only noticed now. I had no idea there was other software out there. I wonder if it came after Posture Man Pat or not… Anyway, I should really make a PC version, and also change the interface to something more serious ;-) If I ever do it will be posted on my blog, so maybe sign up?

  5. 5 Michael

    Hi Andrew, this is a great app – works perfectly on my iMac. Thank you. Just installed so looking forward to it keeping me in line!

  6. 6 Andrew Spitz

    Thanks for the note, Michael. Much appreciated. Hope your posture improves ;-)

  7. 7 Tom

    PLEASE – I need something like this for windows! I catch myself all day with bad posture and something as simple as this would be a big help.

  8. 8 Andrew Spitz

    Ha! I’m sorry, I didn’t make it for Windows :-( I’m thinking I should try do it for Windows and update the interface at some point… but time isn’t my friend at the moment!

  9. 9 Sara M

    Just so you know, I actually googled “computer app that reminds you to sit up straight” and found this page.

    So…thanks for supplying my demand!

  10. 10 SC Keddy

    Hi,
    Having been to a physio years ago for a latpop I would love to be able to use this software on a PC. Perhaps someone at PortableApps could help you compile a PC version?
    SCK

  11. 11 Andrew Spitz

    Hi SCK, I really should make a Windows version and also rework the interface. It’s so ugly! Don’t know what I was thinking ;-) I might put a weekend aside to update it properly but it won’t be before the beginning of the new year.

  12. 12 Sunhae

    This is awesome! I really needed something like this.
    Thanks, Andrew!

  13. 13 Andrew Spitz

    Glad you find this useful. I really should update it at some point – been meaning to.

    Cheers!

  14. 14 Angie

    This is great. I’d really love this for PC as well. I want to give it all my kids and their friends. Please convert to the PC!!!!

    Thanks!

  15. 15 Andrew Spitz

    Thanks, Angie. I’m really sorry but I won’t be able to convert this to PC… It’s an old project with old code :-(

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