Resolutions are easy to make, even easier to break.
According to Twitter, the UK's top resolution ideas this year include changing diet and exercise habits, picking up a new hobby, saving money, getting a new job, drinking less booze, getting more sleep and making new friends.
Many will turn to apps to track their progress, or keep them motivated. But even with assisting technology, hopes of being fitter, healthier, happier or more productive may be dwindling right about now.
Rescue could come in the form of new hardware crowdfunded on Kickstarter. Two gadgets have captured my attention recently. The first promises to target the source of our habit breaking, by addressing the physical, emotional and neurological reasoning behind forming habits. Here it is:
MOTI works a bit like a cheerleading smart assistant that sits on your desk and helps you form good habits - so we'd have to assume this is a useful gadget for the desk-bound only.
It works by repeating the loop of trigger - routine - reward, which is apparently how we form good habits. Let's take drinking more water as an example. MOTI is the trigger, cueing you to pick up that glass of water and take a swig. Once done, you tap it and it beeps happily. (That beep is apparently your reward - if only it dished out chocolate drops...). MOTI repeats this until you've reached your target fluid level for the day and, voila, you're fully hydrated. But if you fail to do the deed and slack off, its bleeping might turn 'sad' or 'angry'.
Let's face it, an 'angry' bleeping MOTI is hardly going to strike fear into the hearts of users, especially those who require the sort of tough love akin to being hunted down and waterboarded to stick to their resolutions, but it's useful for those who want to form habits through small, repeated actions.
If you're pretty much sedentary for eight hours a day, you could use MOTI to remind you to walk up and down the stairs a few times, or stand up and stretch. If you're trying to remember to eat your five a day, you could set it up to remind you to dive into the fruitbowl.
As I've already addressed in my previous post on smart assistants, Amazon's Alexa or Google Home could do a similar job of helping keep us on track through constant reminders. But this device essentially gamifies our need for praise or chastisement, which is rather more fun. I suspect, however, there's a strong possibly that MOTI's bleeping might, eventually, become a little annoying...
Another innate deterrent of keeping New Year's resolutions is our body's natural reaction to the pressures of life. Stress can distract us from our goals, or force us to prioritise the wrong things. But, of course, there's a gadget for that, again funded on Kickstarter:
Lief is a smart patch, concealing a medical grade heart rate monitor, and worn on the chest. It conditions the wearer to look out for signs of stress, anxiety or nervousness and deal with them instantly.
It uses gentle vibrations to guide the wearer's breathing in tune with their heart's natural rhythm. And the founders claim it's been tested on everyone from "high-powered CEOs to monks in the Himalayas".
With careful monitoring and conditioning, this claims to help make users more aware of stress and anxiety and combat it accordingly. Call me a cynic, but what I'm unsure of is how stopping and breathing deeply might help combat stress, if you're already late for something, for example. But its popularity on Kickstarter - it smashed its funding target - suggests there are plenty of people who do see the merits.