Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt may not agree on much, but they do see eye to eye on back pain.
Yang and Schmidt, through his investment fund Innovation Endeavors, are joining with Seattle venture capital firm Madrona Venture Group and others to kick in $5 million for LUMO BodyTech, a Silicon Valley startup that makes a wearable sensor to track posture.
The LUMOback device monitors a user’s back posture and transmits that information via Bluetooth to a smartphone application. The sensor, developed by three Stanford University graduates, is worn around the waist and gently vibrates to alert users when they slouch.
This summer, Monisha Perkash, the Palo Alto, California-based company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, raised more than twice her target of $100,000 using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. Early versions of the device are being shipped now to Kickstarter backers, and the company plans to offer it in stores early next year.
Madrona said this is the first foray into consumer hardware for the firm, which led the funding round. Madrona was an early investor in Amazon.com and storage firm Isilon, an EMC acquisition.
LUMObody Tech is the latest to enter the movement toward using wearable sensors and data-analysis software to help improve people’s health and fitness. The area is already populated by the Fitbit and Nike’s FuelBand, as well as devices that monitor sleep.
At this rate, early-adopters may run out of spots on their bodies to attach all of the sensors. But Yang and Schmidt, who competed fiercely for years on search engines, have both decided there’s room for at least one more.