Amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s grasp on the whole world, a British company is launching a device that trains people to stop touching their faces. Touching the face is a common transmission route for COVID-19 and we all do it a lot of times daily unintentionally.
The company has integrated behavioural science and artificial intelligence in the Nudge wristband to psychologically ‘nudge’ the wearer. The developers of the Nudge wristband claim that it is not only beneficial to avoid catching infectious diseases but can also help many of the millions who suffer from Body-Focussed Repetitive Behaviours, such as hair pulling, nail-biting and skin picking, which are thought to affect up to 5 per cent of the population.
It will become the first of its kind available in the UK when it goes on sale tomorrow (Friday 13th November) at www.nudgeband.co.uk.
The Nudge is extremely intelligent as it has learned how to differentiate over 1000 different hand movements. Some of these include dancing, waving and clapping. It requires no calibration or fine-tuning on the part of users.
The wristband calculates hand movements using gesture recognition. Every time the wearer is about to touch their face, the device identifies and vibrates to alert and warn the person. These subtle vibrations effectively nudge the brain into new behaviours.
Grant Gillon, CEO of PIVOT1080, the company that makes the device said: “Nudge was born out of worries for our own at-risk relatives.
“They were being advised to avoid touching their faces, but how? We know that it’s a habit first formed in the womb, so it’s not exactly an easy one to break.
“We looked at what out there was to help and found nothing that people could just ‘pull out the box’ and start using to help straight away, particularly in the UK where there was nothing available at all.
“We pooled together the infectious diseases and healthcare backgrounds of the team and turned to behavioural science and tech… and that’s when the concept for Nudge began.
“It uses its namesake, nudge theory, which states that friendly pushes can encourage positive behaviours.
“This theory has been around for some time and is gaining a huge amount of attention; even the UK Government has a Behavioural Insights Team, informally known as the ‘nudge unit’.
“It’s taken months of hard work from a team of specialists and Nudge has now been taught over 1,000 hand movements and arm gestures to recognise when you’re touching your face or when you’re just waiving at someone.
“We think it could really help not only those at-risk from COVID-19, but also people who have no choice but to carry on with life and work outside the home for the time being.
“It will also be of great support for the huge numbers of people who suffer in silence from Body-Focussed Repetitive Behaviours, like nail biting, hair pulling and skin picking”.
Nudge is available from https://www.nudgeband.co.uk/ and retails for £49.