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Category Limb-mounted
Developer Pavlok, Inc. [1]
Announced November 2014 [2][3]
Released Developers: (unknown)
Consumers: April 2015 (for crowdfunding backers)[4]
Price 180 USD [5][6]
Operating system none (can connect to smartphone)


Weight g (unspecified)[7]

button, smartphone [8]

Data available Good
Risk factor Low

Pavlok is a wearable device the size of a watch that is worn on the wrist. It delivers an electric shock to the user either upon pressing the button or by a wireless signal sent from a paired smartphone. The device is meant to be used to break bad habits such as smoking by a method of classical conditioning.

Customers can so far only pre-order the device but a number of unit was already shipped to IndieGoGo backers in November 2016.

The device was briefly mentioned on the NPR's Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! show.[9] It created controvers during the Shark Tank TV show in which the founder of the company Maneesh Sethi tried to persuade potential investors.[10][11]

Pavlok raised over $200,000 from Bolt, Boston-based hardware incubator.[12][13]

Main Characteristics

Vice Media editor Louise Beltzung with the Pavlok wristband

The device consists of a silicone armband and the hardware module that fits inside the armband enclosure. It also comes with a smartphone app for Android or iOS systems.[14] The device is worn the same way as a regular wristwatch. Upon pressing the button, the module discharges electrical current into user's wrist. The voltage can be controlled via the smartphone app, that communicates with the device by Bluetooth 4.0 LE, or by double tapping the device, and can range from 50 to 450 volts.[15][16]

The smartphone app can be set so it delivers the electrical discharge after certain conditions are met, e.g. when the user impulsively checks their Facebook page or when they overspend.[17] This can be set in the smartphone app or with an IFTTT 'recipe'.[18] The app offers to set individual goals and good habits forming plans (such as regular exercising, meditation, or waking up) with varying degree of rewards and punishments.


The purpose of this device is to help the users to break bad habits by utilizing classical conditioning. In this case, the stimulus is an electrical shock delivered when programmed conditions are met or manually by the user.

Company & People

Pavlok resembles other limb-mounted wearables

Pavlok is developed by an American technology company Pavlok, Inc. The company is based in Boston, Massachusets.[19]

  • Maneesh Sethi - CEO and Co-founder
  • Jim Lynch - Co-founder
  • Chris Schelzi - marketing
  • Justus Eapen - software engineer
  • Nicole Fallek - designer
  • Adam Andrewjeski - software engineer
  • Peter Dunbar - mobile software engineer
  • Sasha Iuleu - hardware

Important Dates

  • November 2014 - IndieGoGo campaign for Pavlok started.[2]
  • 30 November 2014 - The crowdfunding campaign was fully funded.
  • November 2016 - Pavlok, Inc. shipped the device to every crowdfunding campaign backer.

It is not clear when the company plans to begin regular sales of the device.


The device helps with breaking unwanted habits and losing addictions.

Ethical & Health Issues

The company recommends that Pavlok should not be used by minors, pets, pregnant women, persons with heart conditions, and persons with internal medical devices.[20]

Public & Media Impact and Presentation

We found a great number of reviews, early announcements and user experiences with Pavlok. For better clarity, we arranged the following into two sections.


An article in the tech magazine Engadget from 2014 describes Pavlok and its features. It talked about the development of the idea and informed that the company originally planned to release the device in 2015. The article concludes by saying that the company claims that there is indeed research backing the idea. The founder of the company is quoted saying that Pavlok helped him lose weight.[21]

Pavlok module under an adhesive patch.

TechCrunch informed about Pavlok in September 2014. The article explained what Pavlok does and how the company planned to raise 50 000 USD in their crowdfunding campaign to be able to ship the devices by the March or April 2015. The rest of the article talks about the idea behind Pavlok, the background of its founder Mr. Sethi, and how the device was inspired by the research of Ivan Pavlov. It also mentions that the user is able to detach the module from the wristband and wear it under an adhesive patch (see provided picture) anywhere on the body, something no other article that we analysed mentioned.[12]

News site Independent features an article from May 2016 that informs about the British company Intelligent Environments that created IoT platform which allows the user to connect their bank account to any wearable device, including Pavlok. After setting their spending limit, the connected device, in the case of the article a Pavlok bracelet, punishes the user by administering the electric shock.[22]

BBC informs about the announcement of Pavlok in December 2014. It summarises the device's characteristics and also features a short video interview with Pavlok's creator Maneesh Sethi.[23]

Fast Co.Design magazine of Fast Company features an article about Pavlok from July 2014. It summarises the main features of the device and humours the effects of the therapy the device offers. At one point, the article says that, on a first glance, Pavlok might be mistaken for a practical joke. There is a short comparison to bracelet such as Fitbit. In conclusion, the article voices doubts about the efficacy of Pavlok because users may simply behave in such a way they avoid being electrocuted despite wearing the bracelet.[24]

RT News featured an article about the beginning of the Pavlok crowdfunding campaign in October 2014. The article describes the features of the device and notes the estimated shipping date of March or April 2015. It concludes with information about Pavlok's creator, about the inspiration for the name and with a description of the company size and staff at the time.[25]

Reviews and User experience

Beta Boston editor Hiawatha Bray claims he stopped biting his nails thanks to Pavlok. The article describes the device in general terms, mentions the history behind the idea nd talks about the smartphone app. Yet he did not administer the electrical discharge even once because the mere reminder of pavlok on his wrist was enough to stop him biting his nails. However, he remains sceptical about the effectiveness of the bracelet against more severe habits such as procrastination. The article further quotes a Harvard Medical School psychologist Lisa Coyne who voices her doubts about the efficacy of Pavlok as well and calls it "a waste of $200”. Another quote comes from Alexander Queen, a lecturer in psychology at Tufts University. He is supportive of Pavlok and thinks that in breaking bad habits Pavlok is better than nothing. The articles concludes with the thought that Pavlok may be too expensive for many interested buyers.[26]

The Internet magazine BostInno posted about the experience of two Pavlok users, Mr. Hernandez and Pavlok software engineer Mr. Eapen. Hernandez used the device for two months to break the bad habit of cussing he developed as a teenager. He claims that Pavlok helped him to reduce the bad habit "tremendously" and that he is now more mindful of what he is about to say. As of the time of writing the article, he was no longer using the device because the prototype he used had some bugs and he waits for the feature-complete release version. Mr. Eapen used the device for one month in order to better control his beer drinking habit. He said he "had a noticeable shift [on his] opinion of beer" and that the device gave him better control. He still uses the device to help him wake up at the desired time and also otherwise controls bad habits that would have negative effect on his productivity.[27]

Vice Motherboard magazine editor Louise Beltzung describes her experience with using a Pavlok prototype for five days. She used it to train herself to write more pages for her dissertation, to consume less digital media and to drink less coffee. She also noted that the device discharging electricity made people around here uncomfortable. One man even commented that she "taser" herself. On the first day of using Pavlok, Ms Beltzung managed to reduce her coffee consumption. The bracelet also mildly irritated her skin where the electrodes touched it. She tried to use to wake up early but had to take the device off because it kept discharging during the night. During the next days, she noticed a decrease of her spending time on social media but not an increase in the count of her dissertation pages because she found other ways to procrastinate. The device irritated her skin even further. However, she wrote that she did not notice any big changes in her behaviour.[28]

Becky Worley, the editor at Yahoo! Tech, briefly tested the Pavlok prototype. She goes into detail about what the features and potential benefits of Pavlok are. She does not mention any behavioural changes not it is clear whether she tested the device for a longer period of time or only once. She does, however, remarks that the discharge hurt and that she thinks Pavlok may be a punishment too severe for simple social media overconsumption habits. She concludes that it might be effective in growing more important habit such as exercising, or used as a last resort when other forms of willpower control fail.[29]

Public Policy

We are not aware of any policy that is regulating or is otherwise relevant to this device in particular.

Related Technologies, Projects, or Scientific Research

Pavlok, Inc. relies on research by Duke University that shows that most of a person's day is directed by habits rather than by conscious decisions.[30]


  2. 2.0 2.1
  12. 12.0 12.1
  30. David Neal, Department of Psychology, Box 90085, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708; e-mail: dneal{at}