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Postmortem of Butt Mover

Posted at — Dec 13, 2022 by Abishek Muthian

I suffer from chronic lower back pain, Since I don't consume opioids I find exercises 1 to be the best pain management technique.

In addition to the specific exercises for managing back pain, Not sitting for long durations seems to be the key factor for me to not trigger the back pain. Talking a walk every 25 minutes has worked very well for this.

But its hard to keep track of time when immersed with work, There are no dearth of activity reminders to address that; But every one of them require manual trigger of the timer which breaks my flow.

There are smartwatch apps, But I've stopped wearing watches for number of reasons including but not limited to their intrusiveness.

So I built a butt triggered activity reminder which reminds me to get up every 25 minutes and then reminds me to get back to my work after a break automatically; There's absolutely no user action needed. In order to add incentive for others to use it I built a health and productivity game - archive around it.

Timer counts down to 25:00 to remind about the break and then counts to 5:00 to remind about the work
Butt Mover in action.

But it didn't quite work out as I planned, There were just handful of people who used it and So I will be shutting down Butt Mover tomorrow. I'm recalling the mistakes which lead to its failure here.


I was never great at marketing the things I build, But something I was proud of was my ability frame the problem statement correctly. After all I've been running a problem validation forum 2 for some time now and yet still I didn't quite frame the problem which Butt Mover solves correctly (or) I wasn't truthful about it.

"Fix your back pain with Butt Mover" sounded scammy even though that's the truth, So I marketed it as a a game which increases your productivity and improves your health in real life without requiring your explicit focus.

This meant those who really needed Butt Mover i.e. Ones with back pain never heard about it and Those who did, Saw it as just another activity reminder with extra steps.


The key aspect of Butt Mover is that it requires no user action, This is made possible by the Butt Trigger - A simple Node MCU switch circuit running MicroPython; Well simple for me but not for an average non-technical consumer.

Even though I made it seamless to flash the firmware for Butt Trigger via the Butt Mover website, Built the game using Web Assembly; Butt Trigger by itself became a barrier for entry.

I added an optional alternate mode to play the game with just keyboard instead of Butt Trigger, But the keyboard version was never able to do justice to the idea of having the Butt Trigger for an unattended activity reminder/ productivity timer.

If I really wanted Butt Mover to be adopted by the masses, Then the trigger should have been something which they already possessed like a smart watch.

Further, The browser quirks of running a web assembly game meant there were some unresolved bugs 3 which instigated reliability concerns about Butt Mover in me.


Selling Butt Trigger as a hardware product was never my goal, Shipping Butt Trigger from India would cost at least 6x the BOM and the compliance hurdles was not something I wanted to venture into. I thought by opening the design and enabling easy firmware flashing, Those who could build the Butt Trigger can also build it for others.

I planned to list builders who can sell the Butt Trigger on the website. I reached out to a number of DIY enthusiasts who could build Butt Trigger but it didn't work out as none of them needed it in the first place; I don't know how to find a DIY enthusiast with back pain.

Back to the drawing board

All the above made me not wanting to focus on building Butt Mover further, As of writing my DNS analytics show that there are on average 1100 visitors per month to Butt Mover. I released an open-source version of Butt Mover 4 without the web-server bloat.

The game in Butt Mover was an overkill to begin with, I've been using the activity reminder part of Butt Mover for years in one form or another and so I went back to the drawing board.

I rewrote Butt Mover in just ~150 lines of MicroPython 5. The Butt Trigger sends the messages to a MQTT server and my phone receives the notification. This Butt Mover can work anywhere and is not dependent upon any application in the computer.

I was able to get this done within an hour, Although there's remove for improvement it works fine and helps me manage my pain.


1: A comprehensive guide to the new science of treating lower back pain -

2: Find your customers by the problem you're solving for them -

3: Complete loss of audio in Linux with external monitor, When the monitor is switched off -

4: Butt Mover Web App -

5: Simple Butt Mover -


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