A Covid-Friendly Wearable Shocks You With 450 Volts When You Touch Your Face

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    A reporter for Medium’s tech site OneZero recently spotted an especially bizarre ad on Instagram: The ad features a GIF of a person wearing a Fitbit-style wristband, with the text “Eliminate Cravings.” Across the frame from their hand sits a giant slice of cake. As the person reaches towards the cake, the wristband turns red and zaps them with electricity. You can tell it’s zapping them because the whole frame vibrates, and little lightning bolts shoot out of the wristband, like in an old-school Batman movie. All that’s missing is an animated “POW!” At first, I thought it must be either a joke or a metaphor… Nope. It turns out the Pavlok is exactly what the ad suggests: a Bluetooth-connected, wearable wristband that uses accelerometers, a connected app, and a “snap circuit” to shock its users with 450 volts of electricity when they do something undesirable. The device costs $149.99 and is available on Amazon. The company says it has over 100,000 customers who use the device to help kill food cravings, quit smoking, and to stop touching their face… I immediately saw two fundamental truths at the exact same time. Firstly, the mere existence of an automated self-flagellation wristband is proof that we’ve reached Peak Wearables. And second, this is the perfect device for Our Times… Pavlok’s founder says he came up with the idea for the company after paying an assistant to slap him every time he went on Facebook…. Through a Chrome extension, it can also (Doom scrollers rejoice) automatically punish actions like spending too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and other potentially time-wasting websites. It can zap you when you open too many Chrome tabs — a use case I’d love to recommend to several programmer friends… But perhaps the most relevant feature for today’s world is the ability to program the device to shock you every time you touch your face. This is something which humans do alarmingly often — up to 16 times per hour. The practice has been implicated in spreading coronavirus, or at least contaminating face masks and leading to wasted PPE… Pavlok may sound bizarre, but it’s just the logical extension of an overall trend toward using tech to tweak and prod our brains into new ways of thinking… Pavlok acts as the metaphorical stick to these apps’ carrots, giving you the option to beat your brain into submission instead of just tweaking it. In 2016 Mark Cuban called Pavlok “everything but a legitimate product” in what was probably one of the least-success Shark Tank appearances ever. But Medium’s reporter seems convinced it’s the appropriate response to this moment in time. “I only need to look at Twitter to feel that I’m being jolted awake with a powerful electrical shock… “The real thing feels kind of appropriate.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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