Punishing wearable could improve productivity

There’s a reason animals bite one another to let them know that a certain behaviour is not acceptable: pain works as a motivator. While we might have moved beyond doing that to other people in human society, using our words instead of our fists and teeth to show displeasure, that doesn’t mean we can’t use pain in our favour if we want. The Pavlok is a wearable device that can give you a minor electric shock every time you try to perform a certain activity and it’s being marketed by someone that knows all about pain motivators.

Maneesh Sethi is perhaps most well known for hiring a woman for $8 an hour to slap him everytime he used Facebook. It worked remarkably well, with his productivity increasing massively. Now, he’s using that notoriety to advertise the Pavlok, a bracelet that gives you a shock when you do something you don’t want to be doing, or fail to complete a specified task.

Pavlok works by hooking you up to an application that links you to like minded people and friends. You set yourself a task, such as not visiting websites as much, or working out every day and Pavlok can track this for you. If you achieve your daily goal, you get prizes and can potentially even win money for completing it, but if you fail, your friends can punish you with fines, penalties and even an electric shock.


The Pavlok wrist band achieves this by using a simple activity tracker in the band itself, combined with haptic feedback to provide you with stimulus if needed and to keep track of what you’re up to. It transmits this information to the application using low energy, BlueTooth 4.0, so its internal battery should last a while, though we imagine delivering a regular electric shock could lead to more regular charging.

There are two variations of the band at the moment, a limited edition Alpha version designed for early adopters and developers, which currently goes for $250, while the final Pavlok commercial version will cost only $150. However it won’t be available until 2015.

The developers are hoping to increase the scope of the band by teaming up with developers, releasing an SDK and giving early access to the application for those that want it. You’ll need to sign up to the mailing list, but that seems like a small price to pay for giving your friends and family a chance to shock you, right?