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Brief Published: 18 Jul 2014

Wearable Emits Electric Shocks


Pavlok is a smart wristband that helps wearers form better habits by giving them an electric shock if they fail to stick to their goals.

The wristband, created by a US start-up of the same name, delivers a small electric shock to nudge the wearer's behaviour. For example, shocks can be administered for bad habits such as snoozing a morning alarm, or skipping a weekend workout. The device can also issue financial penalties to wearers.

"It's not about the shock as much as it is about training your brain to do the things you say you're going to do," Pavlok founder and blogger Maneesh Sethi told US news website Boston.com. Sethi says the wristband will incorporate 'social shaming' into its punishments – such as telling all your Facebook friends when you miss a gym session.

The wearable was inspired by the work of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, who believed that people could be conditioned to observe certain behaviours by using positive or negative stimuli. It has already raised more than $100,000 from investors and is set to go on sale later this year.

Using a similar strategy, apps such as Beeminder and Social ReHub use monetary incentives to encourage users to stick to their personal goals. For more on this, and self-tracking behaviour in general, take a look at The Datasexual.

Other designers are experimenting with more subtle ways of nudging consumer behaviour. Moment is a new app that encourages users to put away their smartphones by playing a warning sound and sending an alert when they reach their daily usage limit. For more innovative ideas on how to nudge consumer behaviour, take a look at Chameleon, part of our Agile Futures Macro Trend.