Facebook PixelA device that gives you a mild electric shock when you've been sedentary for too long
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A device that gives you a mild electric shock when you've been sedentary for too long

Image credit: Oura ring

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Dec 16, 2021
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A ring that monitors your vital functions and gives you a mild electric shock if you've been sedentary for too long. Unless you are sleeping, you should get your heart racing at least once every 2 hours.
Why?
On a cellular level, we are designed to counteract entropy. In this race against time, our only available action is to move. If we don't move enough, our bodies degrade and lose function even faster.
How it works
There are several devices on the market that monitor your vital functions. Based on the collected data the embedded software recognizes when you are sleeping, training, relaxing, etc. The proposed idea could use one of these devices (for example Oura ring) and simply add a small electric shocker and upgrade the software with an additional function.
The device would then give you a mild electric shock whenever you have been sedentary for more than 2 hours (unless you are sleeping).
If you receive a shock, consider it a message that you have some catching up to do. Drop down and do a few pushups, squats, jumping jacks, etc. Anything that gets your heart racing enough will reset the 2 hour counter.
Whenever you want to do uninterrupted work, you'd better do some pushups to buy yourself some time.
The above idea takes this one a step further.

[1]Booth, F W, and K A Zwetsloot. “Basic concepts about genes, inactivity and aging.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports vol. 20,1 (2010): 1-4. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.00972.x

[2]Faulkner, John A et al. “The aging of elite male athletes: age-related changes in performance and skeletal muscle structure and function.” Clinical journal of sport medicine : official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine vol. 18,6 (2008): 501-7. doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181845f1c

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Creative contributions

Effects of shock

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Darryl Koh Yuan Jie
Darryl Koh Yuan Jie Dec 17, 2021
This idea while definitely differing in intentions is rather similar to this article and video regarding a device that likewise gives you a mild electric shock when one is failing to pay attention at the wheel while driving.
In the video, the device takes notice of the heart rate and skin conductivity of the user and either vibrates to alert the user or delivers a mild electric shock if the vibration does not suffice.
However, I think one of the main points to take note would be the effects of mild electric shock on users, especially users with health related issues. Consistent electric shocks no matter how mild, might not be healthy for say users who are prone to cardiac or heart related issues. Perhaps the power of the shocks can be adjusted, with a simple vibration being the lowest setting. That being said, I would imagine users might instead ignore it and treat it as a minor disturbance.
I also chanced upon some research and articles regarding electric shock. While electric shocks combined with other forms of treatment like heat shock have been shown to combat forms of illness, I do not think a ring would be strong enough for such treatment. Food for thought!

[1]Findings from Kumamoto University Has Provided New Information about Adriamycin Therapy (Mild electrical stimulation with heat shock attenuates renal pathology in adriamycin-induced nephrotic syndrome mouse model). (2020). Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week, 1525. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A640937854/ITOF?u=nantecun&sid=bookmark-ITOF&xid=312d6713

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Danny Weir
Danny Weir16 days ago
My smartwatch (Xiaomi MiBand 5) has a vibration feature to remind me when I have been inactive for too long, but honestly I just find it annoying at this point. There are times where I am travelling by bus or car and I don't have the option to stand up and walk around, so the feature is basically obsolete. I totally understand why the feature is there, but there is a fine line between functionality and switching the function off due to annoyance. Several other smart watches seem to have similar features, including Apple Watch and Fitbit.
As for the suggestion of a mild shock instead of a vibration, I feel that it is definitely something that could work in theory but may struggle in practice. Firstly, the shocks would definitely have to be adjustable due to health conditions and tolerances as Darryl mentioned above. The masochistic nature of punishing yourself for not "playing by the rules" could also lead to several issues for certain groups of people. We then also have to address the idea of pain tolerance being a subjective notion. Pain can be felt differently between genders and ages and can also be trained due to exposure to pain stimuli (think of martial artists for example). There are several articles and papers online that support the idea of pain being subjective such as: Age changes in pain perception: A systematic-review and meta-analysis of age effects on pain and tolerance thresholds
Finally, to play devil's advocate, is there also not a chance that such a device could be hacked? There are already several cases of phones and other smart devices being hacked, (Can you hack a smartwatch?) so there would also have to be some protective measures put in place there to prevent "the ring" from being used as weapon or torture device!
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic16 days ago
dannyweir right. You turn the smartwatch's vibration feature on with good intentions. It takes a while to figure out the feature won't work for the intended purpose. It ends up being just annoying.
On the other hand, an electric jolt is more than just annoying:) By the time you would have stopped wanting to play along, you would have formed a habit of avoiding the jolt (as intended). So even if you take the ring off, in hindsight you see that it worked while you wore it. You would have taken it off because you didn't want to exercise. Which means you can't pretend anymore that you're too busy to exercise.
It's all theoretical until a few people test this concept
On the bus, you could have exercised with your diaphragm, clenching different muscle groups, etc. You can build up a sweat without anyone noticing:)
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Darko Savic
Darko Savica month ago
Right. The point of this feature is to be so unpleasant that people habitually avoid it. It should be less unpleasant to do a few exercises than wait for the harsh reminder. If the feature works as intended, people would almost never get shocked.
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Effects of shock - the little Albert problem

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JN
J. Nikola Dec 17, 2021
I noticed that we mentioned electric shock a few times already (in this session and the another one). I personally think it's very effective but wrong. I may be biased but watch this video.
It's about little Albert, who was a part of the experiment which was designed to answer if the emotion can be conditioned and if the phobia can be created "artificially". Little baby Albert was given a dog, rabbit, and a rat to play with. He was not scared of any of them at the beginning. During the experiment, every time he played with the rat a loud bang cried the kid. By repeating the process, they conditioned a kid to be afraid of the rat. Following the experiment, he developed a lifetime fear of all furry animals, including Santa's beard.
Jokes on the side, classical conditioning (also called "learning through association") is a very scary way of manipulating someone's emotions. The shocks you mentioned are too general and could have different effects on each individual and are, in my opinion, not considered safe (especially for younger generations). Also, who would wear anything that could randomly shock you when you have a certain pattern of behaviour?
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Darko Savic
Darko Savica month ago
Unethical experiments on children have little to do with what these electroshock reminder ideas (for adults) propose.
We tap into instinctive avoidance of pain to reinforce our habits. In this case, it's not even pain, it's slight discomfort. You wouldn't get jolted enough times to develop any psychological consequences. These devices would simply make it a priority in your mind to avoid being jolted. Consequently, a desirable new habit becomes impossible to forget about - thus gets installed as planned.
I would wear it. I expect this would habitually make me do pushups, squats, cold showers, anything that gets the heart racing. I wouldn't even look at my clock. Soon I would develop a feeling for when the right time for a quick "booster" workout is.
I don't think people would require therapy after using the ring:)
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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobia month ago
Juranium I think the key is to ensure the electric shock doesn't exceed acceptable levels. The goal is to make the user slightly uncomfortable and not hurt them. I would use the ring, if all it does is serve as a reminder and doesn't hurt. And that is inspite of the fact that I am averse to electric shocks.
And I agree with Darko Savic, users will eventually develop an "internal clock." Consequently, they won't need the ring to notify them anymore.
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JN
J. Nikolaa month ago
Oguntola Tobi The loud bang from the little Albert experiment wasn't loud and scary for the people who designed the experiment, so I understand why this wouldn't be a problem for you. I would agree with this method if the shock is a strong vibration rather than the real electric shock. I remember these funny gadgets that looked like lighters or chewing gums but actually were shockers. They are the reason why I am terribly afraid when I hear the stove ignition sound or when I need to use the lighter. It's uncomfortable and I think this gadget could easily become uncomfortable, too. That's why I am keen on believing that it's not something that would be economically profitable. But, I may be wrong.
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The ring should have an app

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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobi Dec 16, 2021
The ring should have an app, like smartwatches do, where you can control it and use it for other functions. The app can act as timer and communicate to the ring when it should deliver the electric shock. Apart from having a sensor that recognizes when you are asleep, an alternative way to prevent unnecessary electric shocks is for users to specify their typical sleeping hours on the app.
Finally, the ring can serve as a wakeup device for heavy sleepers. Like alarm clocks, which make noise when it's time to wake up, the ring will deliver an electric shock to the user when it's waking up time. If you wake up before your scheduled time, you can deactivate the electric shock in advance.
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The danger of hijackers

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Nathaniel Monroe
Nathaniel Monroe Jan 11, 2022
If the system is hijacked how much harm could be done to an individual if the intensity or length of the shock is increased. Also, could the shock be passed on through the touch to persons or machinery containing electronics during attempts to assist a distressed individual?
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General comments

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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobia month ago
What if, instead of delivering an electric shock, the ring constricts? If the ring constricts every 30 minutes for instance, by hour two, it'll be super uncomfortable and you won't have any option than to do the required exercises. However, there will be a maximum constriction level to ensure it doesn't get too tight and cut off bloodflow to the finger.
Just thinking out loud.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savica month ago
Oguntola Tobi I guess it would be an option as well. When comparing the two different solutions some questions to ask are:
  • Would gradual constriction be uncomfortable enough to get someone to build a habit of avoiding it? Wouldn't people wait for constriction to begin before doing the exercises? As long as you depend on a notification, your actions are not habitual.
  • From an engineering perspective, which is more complex, the jolting or constricting mechanism? It affects the maintenance/servicing and cost of manufacturing.
  • From an energy use perspective, could the battery handle both options equally well?
In Elon Musk's words: “The best part is no part. The best process is no process. It weighs nothing. Costs nothing. Can’t go wrong.”
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Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevica month ago
The ring could work for anything that induces hormesis. Whatever shocks your cells (sudden cold, heat, running, etc) always has a detectable effect on your heart rate. So as long as you do anything that causes heart-rate changes, chances are you are helping fight off entropy even a little bit and should thus not be jolted by the ring.
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Michaela D
Michaela Da month ago
This is very similar to what smartwatches can do. When you have been sedentary for a specific amount of time they vibrate. I do like the idea of the ring though, especially if it looks cool or cute enough. I would still go for vibration compared to an electric shock, even if it was a small one!
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Darko Savic
Darko Savica month ago
Michaela D What you said illustrates the point of this feature:) A vibration would get you to wait for a reminder before you do the exercises. Even then, if the device vibrates when you are busy, you could postpone it.
With electroshocks, you wouldn't wait for the reminder. You would habitually do a few exercises every now and then just so you never have to feel the reminder. I bet the feature would get people to work out hourly instead of every 2 hours. It's better to do an exercise too soon than to be electroshocked:) You are never too busy to avoid being jolted.
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