Health care startup NAMU announced Friday that it had released “Alex,” a wearable tracker designed to reduce turtleneck, or forward head posture. Until December this year, Alex will be undergoing clinical testing at two major hospitals in Korea, Asan Medical Center and Mok-Huri Neck &Back Hospital of Oriental Medicine, which specializes in the treatment of degenerative disc diseases. The results of these tests will be presented in academic journals in Korea and numerous other countries. As of Jan. 2016, NAMU has already raised the funds it needs through Kickstarter. It amassed $70,000, far more than its original goal of $20,000, and recently finished shipping its product to 1,200 locations worldwide. The company is now conducting additional crowdfunding through the U.S. site Indiegogo. Due to its meteoric rise in popularity, Alex was introduced in The Wall Street Journal in May as a device that might be able to help prevent cervical disc disease.
The main function of the device is correcting poor neck posture. The wearable device with sensor attached is hung against the back of the neck, where it produces a warning vibration whenever the user bends their neck or allows their head to extend forward. The neck postures the user assumes while wearing Alex are saved on the device by posture type, and that saved data is synched to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth and processed to produce graphs and other types of visual statistical data. The warning vibrations and posture analysis data encourage the user to correct the bad habits that led to their poor neck posture, which is one of the biggest causes of cervical disc disease. Furthermore, if the data is shown to a physical therapist, the Alex user can receive more effective, targeted treatment. Alex’s key technology is its “sensing” function, which detects minute changes in a number of factors -- such as the angle of the neck, time during which same posture is maintained. The device creates an algorithm based of this information. Another essential aspect is the ergonomic design of the device’s legs. “Alex is the outcome of exhaustive testing on prototypes conducted by researchers who majored in control and measurement engineering,” CMO Lee Cheol-hwan said.“The product has received great recognition for its quality, so much so that a domestic IT company recently placed a large order, and plans to use the device as a means of improving the health and welfare of its staff.