Keen: The Bracelet Helping Kick Your Bad Habits

The bracelet vibrates when users pull their hair or bite their nails, warning people in a subtle manner about their unwanted behaviour.

04.09.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by HabitAware
Photo by HabitAware

Even as an adult, people can find themselves doing things they’d been told off for doing as kids. Biting nails. Picking at skin. Pulling their hair.

This isn’t all that uncommon: an estimated 2.5% of the global population has what is known as ‘Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours’, or BFRB.

As the condition is psychological, the usual treatment is therapy — someone who helps an individual understand why they’re reverting to such behaviour, and the sorts of techniques that would help them deal with their issues.

But this is not an option for many people. Therapy can be expensive, particularly when it’s for something irritating but not earth shattering.

It can also be difficult for even the most open of people to admit that they need professional support.


Keen solution

Which is why tech-loving individuals may embrace Keen, a new smart bracelet that can help address such issues in a cost-effective way.

Created by HabitAware, the tech works by registering a specific behaviour that users want to target. The bracelet then monitors hand movements, vibrating when the highlighted behaviour occurs as a discrete reminder for the user to do something else.

An associated mobile application keeps track of progress and particular stress points during the day. The bracelet also comes with a ‘guiding light’ to help users “retrain their brain.”

The product has been named as one of Time’s Best Inventions 2018 and the winner of the Minnesota Cup. Springwise reports that over fifteen thousand bracelets have been sold to date.

Stephanie, one user quoted on the site, says that Keen “has completely changed my life physically, mentally, and emotionally. I no longer pull out my hair. I am no longer looking over my shoulder…I live in peace now.”


Personal need

The company was formed in 2015 by Sameer Kumar, now CEO, and his wife Aneela Idnani Kumar. The pair were looking for a tool to help Aneela deal with her own hair pulling, and decided to expand the initiative after first-hand experience of its success.

The company recently won a $300,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to further its work in treating subconscious behaviour, An academic study will be undertaken to evaluate the feasibility of using Keen as an official treatment for trichotillomania [hair pulling], and to see whether Keen can be used as a tool for self-administering Habit Reversal Training.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to make a tremendous contribution to trichotillomania treatment and the mental health community,” said Sameer, in a statement quoted on Twin Cities Business.

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