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  • Lloyd Price

Pavlok : behavioural science combines with wearable tech

The wearable tech market is overflowing with self-tracking wristbands that promise to improve your life through daily insights into your health and fitness levels. Apparently, once we can see first hand how, for example, our sleep is affected after exercising, we will be stirred into making life-long changes for the better. But is this really the case?

Pavlok, a device that punishes you into submission, is based on the premise that simply tracking our health and fitness doesn’t lead to lasting progress. This notion is substantiated by research from Endeavour Partners that found that six months after purchasing a wearable tech device, one third of Americans had already abandoned them.

The Pavlok team have said ‘Tracking doesn’t work. Measurement alone doesn’t work. It’s not as easy as recording your daily steps or tracking your food.’

So what is Pavlok?

For four years, the device’s creators have been experimenting with psychological techniques to help break bad habits. They have adopted a carrot and stick approach, combining positive reinforcement with penalties including an electric shock. The makers of Pavlok understand that habit change requires more than pretty graphs and charts, it requires accountability, which is why with Pavlok, you can find a partner or group of friends who can profit from your failures, or even take away access to your phone.

While some habits, such as smoking, drinking and eating excessively are harder to track, Pavlok’s accelerometer can record your sleep and activity levels. Want to wake up an hour earlier? Pavlok will know you’re still in bed. Promised yourself you’ll go to the gym this evening? Pavlok’s GPS will know if you decide to skip.

Pavlok also integrates seamlessly with existing applications, allowing wearers to continue using their favourite tracking apps, while enjoying the habit-changing benefits of 340V of electric current piercing through their bodies.

But this innovative wearable isn’t just about the static short circuit, the social element also brings positive reinforcement through encouragement from the Pavlok community and even financial rewards. After all, while negative reinforcement might work for a while, positive reinforcement has been shown to be more effective.

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