Fitness Tracker Inflicts Pain To Reinforce Healthy Habits

Fitness Tracker Inflicts Pain To Reinforce Healthy Habits

Electric shock offers a unique way to bring about behavioral change.

Ross Brooks
  • 7 march 2014

Most fitness trackers rely on positive reinforcement, but Pavlok wants to break the mould with a wristband that shocks you with electricity when you miss your goals. Designed by Maneesh Sethi and Behavioral Technologies, the Boston-based startup is focused on changing habits, not just providing you with an overview of information.

“It’s not about the shock as much as it is about training your brain to do the things you say you’re going to do,” says Sethi.

There aren’t many details about what the bracelet can actually do besides provide a painful shock, but Pavlok has made sure that it’s got the right people behind the idea. Former iRobot and Lego engineer, Jim Lynch, is the startup’s current VP of engineering.


As for funding, the company won admission to the Bolt Accelerator Program last year, which will provide $50,000 towards the product’s development and launch – on top of $50,000 Sethi managed to raise on his own. The biggest contribution by far however, will come from a soon-to-be-announced crowdfunding campaign that has an ambitious goal of $500,000.

Whether people will want to support an idea that results in electric shocks is yet to be seen, but it could be the kind of unforgiving approach to exercise that some people are in desperate need of. It will be interesting to see if this is just the first idea that uses “sticks” instead of “carrots” when it comes to behavioral change and motivation.





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