Behavior Mod

In the Age of Coronavirus, This Tech Startup’s Weird Wearable Hack Could Save Your Life


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You’re probably not familiar with Slightly Robot, a plucky Seattle-based startup that makes a Fitbit-like smartband designed to break bad habits like hair pulling and nail biting. It’s kind of… obscure. But as COVID-19 began to explode, the brand retooled the device and accompanying app. The resulting product, Immutouch, has much broader implications these days: it curbs your tendency to touch your face, a previously innocuous habit that’s now potentially quite dangerous.

How does it work? Easy. First, pair your band (or two bands, one for each wrist) with the Immutouch app. Then calibrate the app by touching your lips, nose and both eyes and adding them as “touch points.” Once calibrated, the band will vibrate anytime your hand wanders into these areas. The behavior is also logged by the app, so you can track your progress as you become more conscious of face touching and, ideally, scale back on it.

We’re not looking to make money on this,” co-founder Justin Ith told TechCrunch. “We are selling each unit nearly at cost, accounting for cost of materials, fabrication, assembly and handling.” The Slightly Robot team is probably working overtime now, too, as it struggles to keep up with demand. But if you order by April 14, your unit will ship April 17. Based on current trends, sadly, it looks like you’ll still have plenty of time to use it.

Editor’s note: Shout-out to my dad, Mike, for alerting me to this product!

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Steve Mazzucchi

Steve Mazzucchi is Gear Patrol’s outdoors and fitness editor. Outside the office, you can find him mountain biking, snowboarding, motorcycling or sipping a dram of Laphroaig and daydreaming about such things.

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