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Pavlok – shock yourself out of your bad habits


The old saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ may be a thing of the past, now that a new tech gadget has come into being. The idea behind Pavlok, a small device you attach to your body with a strap or plaster, is designed to help you break old bad habits and learn new good ones, using the power of your smartphone and a conditioning alert such as an electric shock.

The small module connects to your phone via Bluetooth, but it’s not just a gadget, it’s actually a whole program. So when you buy the product you will sign up to a support group, which will be part of the program to help you achieve your goals. So for example using a combination of vibration, sound and electric shock the wristband will stop a bad habits such as wasting time on Facebook by tracking what you do and how much of your goal you are achieving.


The nature of the sponsorship to get you out of bad habits and into new ones will depend on the task, with some tasks and goals you will also receive rewards for succeeding, such as a financial bonus you set, or a prize. The name of the product is clearly a play on the name Pavlov, so it should come as no surprise that the whole thing is kind of creepily Pavlovian in its structure. Conditioning is a powerful, if sometimes worrying, thing.


Nevertheless the concept is bound to appeal to those who lack the will-power to ‘get things done’, in a world where ‘getting things done’ is such an important marker of your worth as a human being. Whether this is a good thing or not is the stuff of books, so we’ll leave that there and move on.

For now we’ll just say that the product is in prototype stage, with 350 of the little gadgets sitting on people’s wrists right now, no doubt helping them to lose weight, run more, write better or whatever. The one thing we have to note is you will need the will-power to strap the thing to your body in the first place, and we suspect a lot of Pavloks will eventually end up in bedside drawers as people get fed up of being nagged. But maybe we’re being overly cynical.


The device is currently smashing its crowdfunding goals, and will start shipping in final form sometime next year for around $199 (excluding wristband). Which is not bad for a product which probably costs $15 to manufacture. But hey, it does come with a free little e-book called Habit Change. Wear your will-power and hack your habits indeed.

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