I've decided to venture into the new Upright products and finally do this long-awaited product review. As one of the earliest adopters in 2014 and having the ear of the Upright's execs, I feel like I can give my honest feedback.
So I've bought a couple of the new Upright models and I'm comparing them to my original Upright Pro. Here are a few questions I'll be answering:
1) If I didn't have one, which model would I purchase?
2) If I already had one, would I upgrade to a newer model?
3) To expand on question 2, how are the models different and are the new features worth upgrading?
Before I dive into my review, it's important to understand what the Upright is supposed to do and how it works. The Upright is a posture training device that teaches you to be in good posture by constantly correcting you when you fall out of good posture. It uses a concept called Biofeedback. There has been more and more research throughout the last couple of years on ATTENTION and AWARENESS. The results are pretty convincing in my opinion (as long as the user is setting everything up properly and using it correctly). User error with biofeedback devices is pretty high and the main factor I have considered when using the Upright devices and recommending it to my patients.
To put it simply, if you don't know what good posture is, how are you supposed to be able to relay that to the device as a baseline? You could have the Upright training you to be in a different bad posture.
But, what exactly is biofeedback?
Biofeedback or behavioral training/conditioning is much like the story of Pavlov's dog. You can read about conditioning here. To summarize, Pavlov used a bell every time he gave his dog food or a treat, which triggered a salivary response. By the end of the training, Pavlov would ring the bell and the dog would drool without ever receiving food. The dog associated the sound of the bell with food and started drooling just at the expectation that he would receive food. In the Upright's biofeedback, the stimulation is a buzzing/vibrating sensation. The sensation then tells you that you have fallen out of good posture and reminds you to reset. In my professional and personal opinion, it's one of the best posture training products on the market!
So why does it work?
Our brains are amazingly plastic. What is plasticity of the brain? If you tax the brain enough, the neurons and pathways can re-adapt and take shape with consistent and appropriate repetition. Simply put, your brain is really good at learning and adjusting accordingly. But note: consistent and appropriate. There are different ways of teaching your brain that create diminishing returns so it's important to follow the instructions of the Upright and build up slowly. Think training for a marathon: you'll just hurt yourself if you go straight for the event without any training.
The goal of biofeedback or behavioral training/conditioning is AWARENESS. This is the foundation of making habit changes. If you aren't aware that you're in a poor posture, you'll never know you need to fix it.
On a side note, if anyone is ever interested in this topic, please check out The Brain That Changes Itself by William Doidge.
How long should it take for change?
I've found that any good habit change takes about 3-4 weeks of CONSISTENT perfect practice. And oftentimes, when you reset to old poor habits, it has a tendency of restarting the clock over again. So it's a slow process. The Upright app tells you the first training series is 28 days which is perfect to start the process.
So keep in mind, if you stop in the middle of training, you'll have to restart at Day 1!
You can watch my videos on the old Upright setup here:
Here it is, my direct comparison:
Rough comparison explained:
I have felt that things were easy to use back in the day with the Upright Pro. It was simple and intuitive. The Go 1 was also pretty user friendly.
Back in the day, I was never a huge fan of the velcro sticking mechanism of the Pro.
The Pro only works on older iOS or Andriod OS's. So if you have an old phone or tablet that you like to use the Pro with or that you could use the Pro with, that will work well for you. But, if you only have a new phone or tablet, it most likely will not work.
I did always believe that attaching at the upper back was the way to go. I think it's a more accurate judge of posture because it can take shoulder position into account. But, if you have poor shoulder range, it might be difficult for you to attach the new device to your upper back.
The Upright Go 1 and 2 have charging ports that plug into them directly. The Upright Pro had a charging station that it had to sit on. I've lost a few of these charging stations personally so I think having just a standard cord is much easier to keep track of.
With the Go 1 and 2, the app is continually changing and updating. I like the new sleek look and it's very user friendly.
With the Go 2 specifically, there is a delay before the buzz. I think it takes too long and you really have to have an AWFUL posture change to trigger the feedback. I think the Pro was more sensitive and wins in that department. But I do think you can choose how long you want to set the buzz delay on some models.
You can adjust the range of what's still an acceptable posture on the Go 1 and 2 app. I wish I could set the screen and set it myself but it does have some sort of adjustability in that department.
With all of the devices, the buzz is not particularly quiet. If you're sitting next to someone, they might think your phone is going off a bunch.
Room for improvement:
Our posture generally goes where our head goes. If you pay attention to your head's position, the rest of your body falls in place to a degree. I know they make a necklace out there that will attach to the Go 2. But my suggestion might be to build one maybe on a headband? Or a thin strip that goes down the spine a few inches? I'm not sure what the solution is but the attachment to the upper back seems like it could be improved or streamlined.
Here is my most recent video setting up one of the new Upright models:
Should you get an upgrade?
I think the best posture solution is to wear both the old and the new at the SAME TIME. It'll cover both the upper and lower back ranges to optimal biofeedback. However, that may not be the most practical, so my suggestion is to go with the new Go.
As mentioned, there's definitely room for improvement and it's not a perfect product. But Upright is getting close to perfection. I can't wait until they figure out new and improved designs.
Dr. Justin C. Lin