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A Smart-Band That (Purposely) Electrocutes You

Torture or transformative?

Michael Cruickshank
A Smart-Band That (Purposely) Electrocutes You© 2018 Pavlok

With the explosion of wearable smart-band devices, more and more data is being tracked every day. The theory is, that with access to this data, we can coordinate our lives to become fitter, healthier and more productive, however in reality this just isn't the case. Instead, our laziness gets in the way - we know what should be doing, but we just don’t do it. That is where the Pavlok comes in - a smartband which doesn’t just track how close you are to achieving your goals, but also actively punishes you if you fail to meet them.

The Pavlok (named after physiologist Ivan Pavlov) makes use of Classical Conditioning in order to get wearers to set, and then keep to goals. Its makers believe that the reason people fail to meet goals is that there is no direct consequence for their in action. For instance, they point out that a person will be fired if they don’t get to work on time, but not if they don’t go to the gym. With this in mind the Pavlok features the ability to mete out ‘consequences’ in the form of 340V electric shocks.

The band connects via Bluetooth to a specialized app, where users join a community of like-minded people all trying to set goals. These goals can take the form as something as simple as waking up on time, to running 10km a week, or even more obscure tasks like learning a language or writing 1000 words a day. This data is tracked in the band via sensors including a GPS, accelerometer and pedometer, as well as online behaviour monitoring.

Image: © 2014 Pavlok

Once a goal has been set, a user can choose from a series of consequences should they fail to achieve the target. These consequences include; social punishment such as posting to Facebook that the user is too lazy to achieve a task, financial punishment including ‘fines’ being taken from the user, and of course the aforementioned physical punishment in the form of electric shocks. In theory these consequences of failure, should force the user to complete their chosen tasks, and slowly become the more motivated person which they want to be.

While this seems at first like a crazy idea, it might just be the thing which many people need to give themselves the motivation to complete long-term goals. The trick will be for Pavlok to work out the right balance between goals and punishment, so as not to scare users off, while still providing them the necessary motivation to complete set tasks. Who knows, devices like the Pavlok might be all that's standing between us and a more productive future.

That is if we don’t just decide that its easier to take it off, and remove the battery…


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