Lifestyle & Culture

Student Engineer Develops Tiny Tech to Defeat Procrastination

Gary Peng’s POD is an elegant piece of design that uses the ‘pomodoro technique’ to encourage regular breaks in a structured way.

15.07.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by POD on Kickstarter
Photo by POD on Kickstarter

There’s nothing more distracting during a working day than a mobile phone. The technology has become indispensable for the vast majority of modern careers — allowing staff members to feel and remain connected no matter the circumstance — but the constant ping of notifications and unfettered access to the internet makes procrastination a daily problem.

One of the most successful methods for focusing the mind is the Pomodoro (or tomato) timer technique, in which people’s propensity to get distracted is built into the working day. People are encouraged to work in 30 minute blocks, composed of 25 minutes of activity followed by a break of five minutes. The problem? Many of these timers are administered through smartphones, the very source of everyday distraction.

US high schooler Gary Peng saw the challenge and created a simple button-sized tool that he thinks will solve it. Called POD, it visualises the Pomodoro theory with a series of five flashing dots, each of which represents five minutes of work. Users press a finger onto the device to start the countdown, with POD gradually dropping the number of dots on display until the timer is up — at which point the lights will flash, directing the user to take a five-minute break.

When the lights flash again, the 30-minute cycle is over.

Peng’s crowdfunding campaign for the device on Kickstarter has been selected as one of the website’s staff picks and was fully funded in just four days.

“An average worker will be distracted within 11 minutes into a task, and it usually takes 25 minutes to get back on track,” Peng writes on the Kickstarter page. “The lack of focus on productive task eventually leads to procrastination, low productivity, and poor time management.

“As a result, it always feels like we are constantly struggling with time, racing against the clock to finish our task on time.”

The POD can be purchased as a do-it-yourself kit, assembled in less than five minutes with a small amount of soldering, or as a fully-assembled item.

This is not Peng’s first project: he founded PRYNT.3D, a design and technology startup based in San Diego that specialises in using 3D printing, in 2017. Peng’s company also produces DIY kits to improve users’ software and hardware skills.

Tags: EdTech, tech

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