Reuters - Video

Edition: U.S. | U.K. | IN | CN

Technology

Smart wristband to shock away bad habits

Friday, January 23, 2015 - 02:29

A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

STORY: This used to be a daily routine for Justus Eapen - pouring a beer after work. He wanted to break the habit, so he started wearing a newly developed wristband called Pavlok, which produces an electric shock to punish him for drinking. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JUSTUS EAPEN, PAVLOK USER, SAYING: " Every day for five days I would go to the keg, I would fill up a beer and I would shock myself. And then I would take it back and sip on it and every time I took a sip, I would shock myself. So this sucked really bad day one." And it sucked for day 2, day 3, and days 4 and 5. But after a couple weeks of self administered shock therapy, Justus lost his taste for a pint after work - he hasn't had one in 4 months. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JUSTUS EAPEN, PAVLOK USER, SAYING: "And now, like the beer is there and I can intellectually enjoy a beer if I had one but I just don't want one because I never get the craving." According to its creators, the shock produced by the wristband is a negative stimulus which disrupts the neural patterns that form the bad habit. To bolster habit-breaking success, Chris Schelzi, the marketing director for Pavlok, recommends replacing the bad habit with a good one like exercise or meditation. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRIS SCHELZI, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING, PAVLOK, SAYING: "We found that it is super effective and even more so in some cases than we thought it was going to be. And so we were testing different use cases to see if it would work doing this, would it work for smoking or biting your nails or stop drinking beer or having negative depressive thought patterns and we found that it very successful in all of those areas." The wristband can produce a short electric burst up to 350 volts, but Schelzi says the shock can be dialled down to a fraction of that and Schelzi says it is perfectly safe to use. So far with habits like smoking and drinking the wristband needs to be activated by the user to administer a shock. But the company is working to automate the jolt in some cases. Using a cloud based system together with Bluetooth - a user can program the Pavlok to zap them for excessive web surfing (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRIS SCHELZI, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING, PAVLOK, SAYING: "Facebook, Netflix, porn sites, Youtube, whatever it is. So we have a chrome extension so you can plug in your blacklisted sites. So whatever sites you don't want to go to - you type it in and then every time that page loads you get automatically shocked." Shockingly - the idea has proven a huge hit with crowd funding efforts, pulling in more than a quarter million dollars to date. The company is ramping up production with the hopes of zapping thousands of customers in the next few years.

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

Smart wristband to shock away bad habits

Friday, January 23, 2015 - 02:29

Editors' Picks »

Business »

Moving Pictures »

Images of December Images of December

Tue, 23 Dec, 2014 - (0:30)

Tsunami - unclaimed possessions Tsunami - unclaimed possessions

Tue, 23 Dec, 2014 - (2:23)

Images of November Images of November

Tue, 02 Dec, 2014 - (0:30)

Images of October Images of October

Mon, 03 Nov, 2014 - (0:57)

The world in a city The world in a city

Fri, 31 Oct, 2014 - (1:30)

Real-life superheroes Real-life superheroes

Tue, 28 Oct, 2014 - (1:44)

Dance of the northern lights Dance of the northern lights

Mon, 20 Oct, 2014 - (1:08)

Images of September Images of September

Thu, 02 Oct, 2014 - (1:00)

Still missing – MH370 Still missing – MH370

Fri, 05 Sep, 2014 - (2:05)

Burning Together Burning Together

Mon, 01 Sep, 2014 - (2:23)

Oddly Enough »

Robots dance in mass-games fashion Robots dance in mass-games fashion

Wed, 21 Jan, 2015 - (1:30)

India has most of the world's tigers India has most of the world's tigers

Wed, 21 Jan, 2015 - (1:22)

Cat saves abandoned baby Cat saves abandoned baby

Tue, 20 Jan, 2015 - (1:09)

Pope Francis - the musical Pope Francis - the musical

Sat, 17 Jan, 2015 - (1:35)

Google partners with auto suppliers on self-driving car Google partners with auto suppliers on...

Thu, 15 Jan, 2015 - (1:32)

Dateline Asia »

Asia markets toast ECB stimulus Asia markets toast ECB stimulus

Fri, 23 Jan, 2015 - (1:42)

Asia Week Ahead: Markets await Greece vote Asia Week Ahead: Markets await Greece vote

Fri, 23 Jan, 2015 - (1:18)

Netflix to push play in China Netflix to push play in China

Thu, 22 Jan, 2015 - (1:41)

Japan in a tight spot over hostage crisis Japan in a tight spot over hostage crisis

Thu, 22 Jan, 2015 - (1:05)

Behind the pretty face of K-pop Behind the pretty face of K-pop

Thu, 22 Jan, 2015 - (2:09)

Record slowdown in China's economic growth Record slowdown in China's economic growth

Tue, 20 Jan, 2015 - (1:52)

North Korean defector changes his story North Korean defector changes his story

Mon, 19 Jan, 2015 - (1:03)

China stocks hit by credit crackdown China stocks hit by credit crackdown

Mon, 19 Jan, 2015 - (1:16)

Xiaomi smartphones look to go global Xiaomi smartphones look to go global

Mon, 19 Jan, 2015 - (1:54)

Clamping down on China's toxic toys Clamping down on China's toxic toys

Fri, 16 Jan, 2015 - (1:11)

In China, a new a challenge to Apple In China, a new a challenge to Apple

Fri, 16 Jan, 2015 - (1:09)

Reuters Investigates »

Where the sea is closing in Where the sea is closing in

Thu, 20 Nov, 2014 - (3:41)

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, 19 Feb, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, 10 Jan, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (13:22)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, 05 Aug, 2013 - (1:36)