Personal computers and mobile devices have enriched and empowered our lives in many ways. For many of us, however (raising my hand), all that goodness has come at the cost of healthy posture. “Text neck” is the common term for what my doctors call “forward head.” Whatever you call it, if you spend years bent over keyboards and handheld devices, eventually you’ll pay the price in the form of neck pain, poor overall posture, and possibly even numbness, tingling, and shooting pain in your hands from impinged nerves in your spine. Incessant banging hard on keyboards and persistent mousing can also cause chronic pain, but with near-universal smartphone use, text neck is on track to inflict entire generations.
Medical Wearable Solutions has a new wearable device called the EyeForcer designed to train users to maintain good posture. If the company and device names seem familiar, that’s because the firm introduced a different product to solve the same problem for children two years ago. The company introduced the original EyeForcer in 2016 to help kids prevent “Gameboy Disease,” but it didn’t do well commercially. For more on what happened with the first EyeForcer, see the endnote that follows this article.
The EyeForcer smart eyeglasses have sensors in the frames that measure the angle at which you are holding your neck and head. If your posture is poor – meaning you are looking down at your device – a small blinking LED warning light on the inside of the frame blinks. You can also configure the EyeForcer to send a notification alert to your mobile device that your posture is off. When you correct your posture, the LED stops blinking and the mobile device alert fades. The EyeForcer has anti-blue light lenses that some sources claim protects your eyes against blue light from electronics screen, but you can also replace the lenses with prescription lenses. According to Medical Wearable Solutions, the EyeForcer can help prevent computer vision syndrome, blurred vision, eyestrain, and headaches as well as Gameboy disease and text neck syndrome and related neck, back, shoulder, arm, and hand discomfort.
If you wear EyeForcer frames but want to keep working with or reading your smartphone or another mobile device, the answer is to hold the device higher. This solution won’t help with computers, because holding even a light laptop in the air is a non-starter. If you’re serious about improving your posture when using all electronics, you’ll want to consider the heights of your keyboard and display, sitting positions, and desk heights. Smartphone users are the largest electronics user population, so in this case, the EyeForcer could be a win for those willing to pay $240 for a pair. Depending on your area, that price is the equivalent of 3 to 4 physical therapy appointments.
When we first received notice of the new EyeForcer, we inquired if it was a further development of the earlier Eyeforcer for children. In an email response via their public relations firm, a company spokesperson answered:
“Kind of yes. The child product was not supported by the parents. There was also a compliance issue with children not wanting to wear the child version of EyeForcer. When we went to Consumer Technology Show in Jan 2016, we were surprised. Out of the 3000 people who visited our booth, over 90% wanted something for themselves and most were adults. That is when we went to the adult version. The child version was punishing the kids by shutting down their game if they had too many warnings for poor posture. But the adults did not want to be punished. They only wanted to be given warnings for poor posture.”