Most fitness trackers are capable of showing you exactly how many calories you’re burning each day and how many steps you usually take.
The Pavlok wristband, however, wants to do more than show you your daily habits — it wants to shock you into changing them.
Pavlok is currently it its alpha stage of testing. Though it’s currently making the rounds this week, Behavioural Technologies founder and CEO Maneesh Sethi, who leads the team responsible for Pavlok, says he plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign for the product around September.
Unlike other wristbands that try to keep you in shape, Pavlok is more focused on changing your underlying habits. The bracelet and its accompanying app of the same name use a combination of negative and positive reinforcement to train your brain.
So what do we mean by negative reinforcement? The bracelet can send a small shock to your wrist if you don’t meet a predetermined goal, such as heading to the gym at a certain time.
“You get used to vibrations,” Sethi told Business Insider. “You start to notice less and less when something is vibrating in your pocket and on your wrist. But you don’t really get used to the shock.”
Sethi described Pavlok as more of a behavioural training device rather than a fitness tracker. Ideally, owners would wear Pavlok when they’re trying to break or create a habit instead of wearing it every day like a Fitbit or Jawbone wristband.
Once your new habit (i.e. going to the gym regularly) becomes automatic, you won’t have to wear Pavlok again until you wanted to form another habit — hopefully one that’s positive.
Pavlok focuses on creating better habits in three particular areas: fitness, productivity, and sleep. Sethi, who studied behavioural technology at Stanford University, said these three elements could change your entire day.
“There are a few different habits that when you start to do them, the rest of your life improves naturally,” he said. “If you exercise you naturally tend to feel better. You naturally tend to sleep more…When you implement that one change, it has massive ramifications over the rest of your day.”
Emitting small shocks is only one way Pavlok provides reinforcement. There’s also a reward and penalty aspect to Sethi’s system.
If you fail to meet your goal of making it to the gym on time, the app could charge you a fee. If you meet your expectation, however, you’ll be rewarded with a small sum of money. Sethi said these amounts could range between 30 cents for a reward and $US10 for a penalty.
It’s unclear exactly where the money comes from and where it goes once it’s in the pool. Sethi said the team is still working out these details.
The money you’re charged when you miss you goal could be used to reward others that meet their expectations. These funds could also be potentially donated to charity, but no plans have been finalised yet.
Pavlok could also use public shaming as another form of motivation. If you don’t commit to your pledge, the app could tell all of your Facebook friends that you didn’t go to the gym when you were supposed to. It could also invite your Facebook friends to shock you as a penalty.
The wristband’s social and gamification aspects are crucial, Sethi said. Pavlok uses a buddy system that enables you to be accountable for another user — whether it be a friend, family member, or random person. The app will ask you if your buddy has completed his or her goals. And, if the answer is no, they will be issued a penalty.
There’s no set price or release date yet, but various reports have pegged the prototype at $US250, adding the device will likely be cheaper when it’s ready for production.
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