This Inflatable Vest Fights Back Pain with Bubbles #WearableWednesday


What if helping back pain was as fun as popping bubble wrap? Ziyun Qi, a student at School of Visual Arts, Products of Design, has developed a vest that forces you to exercise your back muscles every 20 minutes using balloons that inflate. Then, like bubble wrap, you get to pop them, only in this case, you are really just squeezing the air out of them. The motion of stretching your arms back to squeeze the air out of the individual balloons, insures that you are stretching your muscles. Ziyun has done research on the topic of back pain and office workers, and that is what inspired the project.

I tried to visualize the tiredness of our body. Based on research, for the people who are always sitting in front of computers, they’re highly suggested to stand up and do some office exercise to keep their neck and backbone healthy. A lot of people know this, but they always forget or are too lazy to move their body.

Her RE-Inflatable Vest seems to be an interesting solution–check out the video to see it in action.

Ziyun creates a simple vest from silicon film and adds a water pump, as well as tubing and finger cots (used as balloons). An Arduino Uno and an Adafruit Real Time Clock Breakout Board, control the inflation and allow it to happen in 20 minute intervals. Checking valves are used to be sure the inflation is correct for the bubbles, while blue EL wire helps define them. The finished vest has a fun look that reminds me of outfits in Woody Allen’s Sleeper, yet it serves a real purpose.

Back and neck pain has become a serious issue–just ask anyone in front of a computer. I’ve recently heard quotes that compare sitting for long hours in front of a computer without exercise to smoking so many cigarettes a day. So, chances are we are going to see a lot more wearables with posture and spine movement as the focus. If you are ready to start your new year’s resolutions early and tackle your own back issues,  you can follow Ziyun’s Instructable and make your own vest. Here’s the Real Time Clock Breakout Board that you’ll need. Have fun designing and send us a video of your healthy back creation.


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