NeckGraffe Award-winning project

We designed a postural reminder system to provide real-time notifications about a user’s unhealthy posture, and encourage user to establish and maintain healthy posture.

Our team won third place in the 2014 ACM CHI Student Design Competition in Toronto.

Have you experienced neck pain?

At the beginning of this project, our team were brainstorming ideas and we found out almost all team members have experienced back/neck pain at some point in our daily lives. We later found out from research that neck pain is correlated with prolonged forward head posture[1], and that healthy posture may be part of the solution.

Who are our users

So we decided our objective to be helping people to establish and maintain healthy posture. But who are our typical users?

Persona. We informally talked with people with different demographic information (like occupations) and defined our typical users through creating personas. Some main characteristics of our target users are below:

Observation & Task analysis. Our problem space is a bit different. Because a lot of times users are not intentionally changing their postures, those changes cannot be counted as a task. We tried to observe target users do certain common tasks and created special task analysis including users’ postural information. From this, we realized how important observation is for our problem space. Thus we narrowed our scale down from back and neck pain to only neck pain and related postures for easier observation/measurement.

Special hierarchical task analysis for texting.
To protect data privacy, I took out all the user-related information.

Design alternatives!

Options. Then we started to brainstorm ideas and came up with three design alternatives. For each of them, we also analyzed its relative strengths and weaknesses.

Left - A body sensor that collects and sends posture information to a paired mobile application account;
Center - A chair brace that collects and transmits posture information to a paired mobile phone or laptop;
Right - A Google glass application that gives users feedback when they are having an unhealthy posture.

Storyboard. We also used other ways to help us understand and present a walk-through of each design option. Below is the storyboard we created for body sensor system.

Storyboard we created for body sensor system: How our user would use the system.

Mockup and prototype.. iteratively

Mockup. Since our 3 options all have some kind of applications paired with them, we designed a mobile application interface to mockup the idea. See below the mockup and its walk-through.

Current Posture: Shows the user's current posture in relation to an ideal posture, with brief descriptions of desirable or undesirable postural elements. Green or red icon in status bar notifies user of current healthy or unhealthy posture.
Track Posture: Visualizes tracked postural data over an adjustable period of time, e.g., weekly. Tracking can be further customized by location (for example, to track different postural patterns while at home or at work or school).
Learn Posture: Educational and instructional resources for users to learn about the importance of posture, how to maintain a healthy posture, and selected exercises for stretching and strengthening.
Settings: Allows user to customize and edit system behavior, notifications, and personal information, learn more about the system, and get help when necessary.

Poster session. Then we brought our designs to a poster session to collect feedback. We tried to keep objective when describing each option. And it amazed us how people started to raise points that we didn’t thought of. Finally the session and some follow-up communications helped us add more ideas and eventually narrowed down to focusing on the body sensor option.

Prototype. Now it’s time for prototype. We used some of our poster session feedback to detail and improve our design (e.g. Adding gamification), and created a mobile application prototype using Axure.

Top left (2) - Current Posture; Top right (2) - Gamification and Competition
Bottom left (2) - Track Posture; Bottom right (2) - Learn Posture and Settings

Evaluation and Redesign for CHI. After prototyping, we designed our evaluation together, including questionnaires, benchmark tasks with think-aloud protocol, interviews and heuristic evaluation. Later on, our team updated the prototype based on iOS standards and submitted it to the 2014 CHI Student Design Competition. Finally we went to Toronto to present our work and won the 3rd place in that competition. Yay!

Updated Prototype - Gamification and Social Network

My Role

In this project, I conducted some early stage research (including competitive analysis and part of task analysis), collaborated on designing alternatives and mockups, mainly created the initial prototype based on feedback, and helped design the usability evaluation.


1. Cagnie, B., Danneels, L., Tiggelen, D. V., Loose, V. D., & Cambier, D. (2007). Individual and work related risk factors for neck pain among office workers: a cross sectional study. European Spine Journal, 16(5), 679-686.