Alnoor M Peermohamed
11:37 07th Jul, 2014
Pavlok, A Wearable That Shocks You Into Cultivating Good Habits
The device is a more expensive take on pinching a rubberband on your wrist everytime you do something bad.
There's no dearth of fitness trackers available in the market today, but they solely rely on reminders and notifications to tell you you're not reaching your goals. Enter Pavlok, a $250 wearable that is slated for launch in early 2015, literally shocking you into doing the the things you're supposed to.
Maneesh Sethi, a Stanford aluminus, studied how humans behave and form habits, in an attempt to boost his own productivity and keep fit. His findings led him to invent Pavlok, a device that combines accurate tracking capabilities with a powerful commitment technique, a.k.a a shock.
Pavlok isn't just about electrocuting its wearer everytime they fail to hit the gym, there's also a social element. Teaming up will force users to become more accountable to someone else, something Sethi found to be a key motivator in his studies. If you don't complete your daily quota of fitness and other activities, you buddy can zap you.
While the concept may seem too extreme, it's a well known fact that gentle encouragement provided by other apps and devices simply isn't enough to motivate certain users. However, even the Pavlok isn't fool-proof and is susceptible to sabotage by users both consciously or unconsciously – they can just stop wearing the device.
That tiny (or big) niggle apart, Pavlok is based on a tried and tested method and is just a more expensive take on wearing a rubberband on your wrist and pinching it when you have thoughts or behaviour you want to change.
"Negative reinforcement has been shown to create desired behaviour, but research has proven, at least with children, that positive reinforcement mostly works better," said Dr. Sheri Jacobson, clinical director of Harley Therapy, London.
All Sethi needed to create the Pavlok was a 3D printer and a Bluetooth LE chip. Taking himself as a test subject he says that the device has allowed him to lose 30 lbs in a few months. He now plans to launch the device through crowdfunding this fall, and hopes to sell the device publicly by early 2015.
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