Making Wearable Technology A Habit

Operant conditioning relies on reinforcement and punishment. While the former aims at increasing a certain behavior, the latter – punishment – is aimed at decreasing a particular behavior. So, why am I talking about conditioning, learning and punishment in the context of wearable technology? The answer lies in the fact that wearable technology is being used to change the way an individual behaves.

Probably one very interesting application of habit changing wearables is Pavlok. This device relies on the delivery of an electric shock (mild, one hopes), to its wearer. This electric shock is delivered when an individual has not met his or her goal. This goal can be a new routine, a fitness related activity or even a habit that needs to change.

Interestingly enough, the creator of Pavlok is a Maneesh Sethi, who a while ago, hired someone to slap him whenever he logged onto Facebook. Well, a shock should probably a more pleasant experience than a slap! The bigger question may be is whether we (as thinking and rational adults) need this kind of external reinforcement. Well, not all of us are born with steely determination. So, a jolt every now and then, in a good way of course, would help greatly!


A slightly gentler negative reinforcement comes from another device called Lumo Lift. It is all about vibrating gently when you slouch. Of course it can also help you in your fitness activity by measuring your calories and distance and the steps that you have taken. This may be a rather useful device in the long run simply because a lot of us have sagging shoulders or spine – an occupational hazard!
Wearables can change our habits – the satisfaction of seeing your smart phone or smartwatch telling you exactly how many calories you have burnt can be extremely satisfying indeed. Worn close to the body, a wearable device can indeed be your best friend and close confidant in more ways than one. So maybe, this New Year’s eve, you should resolve to get yourself a wearable device and listen to its reinforcements!


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