Like many people, I often think about all the things I could achieve if I were motivated to squeeze the absolute most out of my day.
Sadly, I’m far more likely to be found sleeping in on Saturday mornings than heading out for a run. And – despite all my earnest intentions to take classes and read great literature – I often find myself spending my spare moments scrolling aimlessly through Twitter.
I need a metaphorical kick up the bum if I am going to fill up the second half of 2019 with worthwhile pursuits. Or perhaps what I really need is an electric shock?
Amazon is now selling Pavlok bracelets, a device which purports to help you ‘upgrade your life’ and ‘change your behaviour’, and sounds more than a little Black Mirror.
This wrist strap, which will set you back for £193 ($242), uses a 350-volt electrical current to quite literally shock you into patterns of self improvement. Apparently there is the choice to let other people buzz you if they see you doing something wrong, an option I personally would not pursue.
From eating too much fast food to hair pulling, this is targeted towards those who need a little extra nudge to keep to their goals. The manufacturers claim the positive benefits will be felt within ‘three to five days’.
According to the product description on Amazon:
Pavlok helps break bad habits by associating the discomfort of the electric jolt with the bad habit that is being performed.
The device may be activated manually by clicking the top of the module, or can be activated by an external sensor connected to the Pavlok application on a paired iPhone 4s or later (Android coming soon).
Examples of external sensors are GPS, accelerometers, browser extensions, or custom-written software. When the sensor detects a bad habit it sends a signal to the app, which triggers the programmed function on the device (jolt, beep or vibration).
UNILAD spoke with Pavlok CEO and founder, Maneesh Sethi, about the personal inspiration behind this Sci-Fi bracelet, which all began when he paid a woman from Craigslist to slap him every time he used social media.
Embarrassed by the amount of time he was wasting on Facebook, Maneesh wanted to find a way to give his productivity a boost. For Maneesh, getting slapped seemed to work like a charm, zapping him into pro-activity and then some.
Maneesh told UNILAD:
Basically, I suffered from ADHD and always had incredible trouble getting things done. I hired a girl to slap me in the face every time I went on Facebook.
I wrote an article about it that went super viral. After the hype died down I wanted to do it again so I said ‘why not make a device that zaps me when I go on Facebook’ so I made a little prototype.
Maneesh was left impressed by the results, and claims he saw his average daily productivity soar from 30 to 40 per cent to 98 per cent.
Maneesh told UNILAD about the moment he realised he had tapped into something bigger than a simple, lighthearted work-focused experiment:
I was about to publish the vid, and I thought. ‘There are a million devices out there that track what I do. This one is changing what I do. Maybe this is better than a funny blog post — maybe it’s something real that can help people’.
Of course, hiring out a roster of employees to slap clients wouldn’t have been practical and would no doubt cause a bit of a ruckus at your average workplace.
And so it was that Pavlok was born, giving users that same sensation of being shocked into action, albeit in a more subtle way.
This device can apparently be worn safely by those over the age of 18 as long as they aren’t pregnant or suffering from a heart condition.
During an interview with ABC News, Maneesh likened the sensation as feeling ‘like if you were to touch a doorknob after rubbing your socks on the carpet.’
There have been numerous success stories from people who have put aside bad habits – from smoking to nail biting – after popping this on their wrist. Pavlok have claimed an extraordinary 20,000 people have permanently kicked their bad habits after using this device.
Speaking with UNILAD, Maneesh continued:
The product is insanely effective for breaking bad habits, and our app, community and device is very powerful for forming good habits.
The number one use case is for waking up early. Our product vibrates, beeps, and zaps until the user gets up and does jumping jacks. This has been extremely effective for heavy sleepers, people with sleep disorders, etc.
After sleep, unhealthy eating, smoking, nail biting, and wasting time online are big use cases.
We have a tonne of success stories of our users losing a lot of weight, quitting smoking, etc.
So the @amazon Pavlok bracelet works by administering a small electric shock if you eat too much fast food, bite your nails, or spend too much time on the Internet. Um… are these different shocks for each habit or…?
— Kathleen Smith (@MrsDrAtlantis) June 17, 2019
Maneesh told UNILAD, ‘Pavlovian Conditioning’ is at the heart of this unusual New Year’s Resolution aid, as if you couldn’t tell by its name:
For Bad Habit Cessation, we use aversive conditioning — where you do the bad habit for 5 days while you receive a zap. Your brain creates a Pavlovian association (like getting drunk on tequlia and never liking it again).
Product reviews on Amazon vary, with some noting how a ‘few improvements’ were required to get the pricey product up to standard. However, other satisfied customers have praised it as being ‘really helpful’ and ‘well worth the money’.
Have you given Pavlok a try? Or do you have other – less shocking – methods of breaking bad habit cycles?
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.