Lumo Lift Review – Your Secret Weapon Towards Better Health
Lumo lift is the first ever wearable device designed to monitor posture. It all started a few years ago as a Kickstarter campaign created by a trio of Stanford University Students: an engineer, a physician and an entrepreneur under company name Lumo Bodytech Inc. Like every exciting and promising campaign in the crowdfunding website, the project had garnered more than twice its funding goal by the time the first batch of products had started shipping to the initial backers. The rest, they say, is history. But did the diminutive gizmo really get to back up its claims? Well, that’s why we are here. Before we get to the details of the Lumo Lift Review however (and slam the manufacturer if necessary), I’ll first jog your memory on what the Lumo Lift is all about.
What is Lumo Lift?
Lumo Lift is basically a fitness tracker just like the Fitbits or Jawbones, only that it is strapless (like the Myo Heart Rate monitor) and sports this exclusive feature that sets it apart from the rest: the ability to monitor posture. It has been designed to help you keep tabs on your upper body posture, body positions and core position.
How Does the Lumo Lift Work?
Compared to its antecedents – the conventional braces and trainers – in the posture tracking space, the Lift is sure quite a breakthrough. It standout feature is that it doesn’t forcibly straighten your back or shoulders or make you adjust your posture. It instead uses a set of sensors that can detect your body movements as you lean forwards, backwards or sideways and tell you when you are doing it wrong.
The little inconspicuous gizmo is worn on your shirt somewhere near the collarbone. It doesn’t work automatically, so you have to calibrate it to establish a baseline posture which it will use to detect wrong postures afterwards. Literally this means you must first have some knowledge of what good posture is.
A double-click on the device calibrates and activates it. It assumes your sitting position then to be what you consider upright and uses an algorithm to determine if subsequent movements are right or wrong. The ultimate goal is to make you aware of your posture and learn how to maintain the correct one with practice.
The tracker initially was usable in either of these three modes.
- Posture Alert; and
In this mode (the most aggressive of the three), the sensor is programmed to create a little buzz every time you use bad posture. To activate or deactivate the mode, you simply need to long-press the sensor for at least three seconds.
2. Posture Alert
The posture alert mode is less aggressive than Coaching but still more intense than Monitoring. The time it takes for the sensor to respond to a posture change is the main difference between these two modes. Posture Alert doesn’t have the instantaneous alert feature. Instead, you are provided with the option to select a length of time between one and thirty minutes which can cause a bad posture to trigger a vibration.
So if for instance you’re in a day job that needs a lot of activity and body movement such that it is impossible to completely evade sporadic improper postures, but reckon twenty minutes is too much time to be using unbroken poor posture, you can set your kit at twenty minutes and go set about your business.
If you hit the specified time leaning the wrong way, the alert will be activated. Better yet, you can decide the period of time you would want the mode to be active.
The final and least aggressive mode only requires you to wear your Lumo Lift the whole day while, of course, minding your posture. At the end of the length of time you choose to have the sensor monitoring your movements you can view the data and review the performance.
You can also compare the day’s data with previous periods to see if you are making headway and whether you need improving. Just for the record, all these data is viewable through a mobile app which we are going to talk more about later.
As an upgrade, Lumo later combined the Coaching and Posture Alert modes into one essentially by reducing the minimum time allowed for the Alert mode from one minute to three seconds. So now instead of continuous monitoring, you can get alerted after three seconds of bad posture.
That’s however not to say that the two modes in their distinct forms were put down completely; you can set the delay for three seconds to emulate the Coaching mode or upwards of one minute to emulate the Posture Alert mode.
How Does the Lumo Lift Distinguish Good from Bad Posture?
According to the manufacturer, posture monitoring is executed by a set of special hardware and algorithms that can guesstimate the positioning of your upper body parts including the spine, shoulders, upper back and chest. The sensor will then, as pointed out earlier, use what you feed it with to detect backward, forward and sideways motion. It uses its built-in vibration motor to create buzzes of different patterns and combinations to notify different states or movements.
One short buzz indicates you are in Coaching mode while three short ones in a row notify you that the sensor is aligned. A coaching session in this case refers to the Coaching-Alert combination set for alert intervals of three seconds. Repeated vibrations during a Coaching session means you’re in bad posture. And this are not your normal fitness tracker subtle buzzes, by the way; they are loud and can be a bit embarrassing in public places if the whole tracking thing was supposed to be discrete.
There is a high likelihood you’re not here for this aspect of the Lumo Lift but I’ll talk about it anyway. I will say I was quite impressed at how accurate the gizmo was at step counting, keeping in mind this is not exactly what it was built for; my desktop echoed what I had manually counted on my five minutes’ test walk out in the yard.
On distance estimation, the device offers the same precision as the Jawbone Up24, which I have been a proud user of for more than one and a half years now. There was a few yard disparity which reduced to almost insignificant in shorter distances. Also, it was inconsistent, and a couple of times I came up with almost an identical figure. Right now I’m using the Fitbit Charge HR and I can confess that the mean distance gap between it and the Up24 is larger than that of the Lumo Lift, which on average places between them.
The Lumo Lift Design
The Lumo Lift is composed of two tiny segments; the sensor itself and an aluminium clasp which is lighter in colour and weight and generally tinnier. The clasp will be the visible part when you attach it on your shirt while the larger plastic segment is concealed between your shirt and the skin. Just in case you’re dreading losing the clasp, a new Lumo Fit comes with a spare clasp and a secondary sensor that can clip onto a thicker or jagged cloth such as a bra strap.
The sensor should and must be won against the skin an inch or two below the collarbone with the clasp facing outside the tee shirt to ensure the whole sensor surface is in contact with the skin as intended. I tried it on and there is simply no worry of irritation (I have the sensitive type of skin, by the way).
While the size and shape is certainly dissimilar to that of ordinary wrist-worn activity trackers, its technical composition is the same as that of a wrist-worn tracker. It has a magnetometer, a three-axis accelerometer and a gyroscope which combine to record distance, speed, calorie and step count data.
A major weakness, on a slightly different note, is that the Lift does not support food or sleep tracking. Seemingly, only movement-related capabilities were in mind during the designing of the Lumo Lift. Take it as you may, but the Lumo Lift is a niche activity tracker.
The Lumo Lift App
Lack of a display on the device (which would have been useless anyway as it is worn beneath clothes) makes the Android/iOS app an essential accessory. That’s where all your activity data (including steps made, distance covered and posture history) is calculated and displayed.
While the Lift’s accuracy in providing raw activity tracking data is barely up for confutation, its generalisation when it comes to breaking down the data is no doubt a major downside. Gym, running and cycling sessions are not analysed elaborately as in Fitbit’s MobileRun® but instead given an “active” score. In posture monitoring, it’s nearly the same thing; it only tells you whether your posture’s been good or you have been slouchy for the better part of the day, and nothing more. I just found it a little too casual when compared to what some of its rivals are offering.
Another feature of the app that you may find a concern is the fact that it supports only Bluetooth syncing. The setup process is pretty easy and straightforward but there is no automatic syncing or any syncing at all outside Bluetooth range. The good thing is that the Lumo Lift comes with 35MB of built-in memory which can store data of up to weeks before it’s viewed on the phone. Furthermore, you’re barely going to need that phone for anything more than what the tracker alone can offer. As I pointed out earlier, there is no helpful breakdown from the app, so, yeah, you can just rely on the buzzes and work your posture.
On the credit side, the Lumo Lift app is compatible with several Android devices, iOS and Windows desktop, albeit initially it could only support iOS. Its interface is also comprehensible and, on the whole, fairly impressive. It is provided by two large circles with one displaying posture state and the second one illustrating how active you’ve been. Tapping inside the former gives you an account of the hours you’ve been active while the latter brings into display a log of your step count against your goal, distance covered and calorie count.
The Lumo Lift has an average battery life of five days, which is the average of right about every fitness tracker on the market right now. It nonetheless cannot hold a candle to Jawbone UP24 or the Misfit Shine which can get you through two weeks of continuous use and one year respectively.
On a similar note, the Lift doesn’t display battery status or even give warnings on the sensor itself or on the app, which is truly an unfortunate drawback.
It takes approximately two hours to charge once connected to its little charging dock. The dock is pretty tiny but has been designed to house the sensor perfectly and has a magnet which ensures the pins align robotically.
Lumo Lift Review – Conclusion
At £80, you would expect better from a fitness tracker but, hey! This is the first time you are laying your hands on a posture monitoring device, so what makes you think that is not the price range? There is a reason Google, Apple, Fitbit etc. haven’t ventured into the seemingly vacant space; maybe it’s that hard to assemble the hardware and come up with something that does anything at all let alone do it right.
It doesn’t stop us from evaluating it though because if it’s built to monitor posture it should monitor posture. I would honestly say that Lumo could have done more to the sensor and the app if, at least, they couldn’t lower that price. The design is more than we could ask for but the gizmo is not water resistant, for one, such that spilling coffee to your shirt might prove quite costly with your Lumo Lift on. The app is under-built, there is no display on the app whatsoever and lack of battery display just but takes us back to the dark days of the 90’s.
If you are looking for a fitness tracker, you will be dammed to consider the Lumo Lift an option, but if you’re looking for a posture monitor the size of your car key fob, then you need this device.
Don’t forget to share your thoughts about the Lumo Lift on the comment section below and (if you own one) tell us about your experience with it.