Sometimes it seems like the app and wearable worlds want to bear the weight of the world's problems on its shoulders. Got a problem? There's probably an app for that.
This in turn can make our behaviors and tendencies as humans seem so predictable while framing the path to solutions for our complex problems as highly simple. So the fact that in many ways, things like the state of our own well-being can be tracked through some startup's wacky app is a bit perplexing. But with the right intent, can an app really better people's lives? And if so, how should it be designed in order for that to be true?
This is where Prana comes in—a wearable currently on Indiegogo aiming to better your health by training you in a very Pavlov-y way to sit up straight. The device pays attention to your posture as well as your breathing patterns; as soon as it detects an unhealthy sitting position it sends you a notification on your phone to adjust and take some deep breaths. In a seemingly short matter of time, you can train yourself to sit upright at your desk and save your back from gradual damage. The company even claims that their breathing exercises can save you from mid-day fatigue.
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There is one problem I see with this product though, which is the element of distraction. When I'm at work, I don't want to be constantly distracted by my phone (and actually, phones are one of the main reasons behind the statistic that office workers are distracted from their work every 11 minutes. Even worse, it take us over twice that amount of time to get back in the zone).
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In addition to the level of distraction, I'm skeptical about the usefulness of all of the underlying data within tracking apps and wearables—how many people use wearables and actually religiously follow graphs and charts related to their progress? It's hard for me to see how a collection of direct statistics can guide us to a more holistic and healthy lifestyle. For a mission as humble as helping someone learn to be more calm and aware of their body, a highly minimal and intuitive interface seems more appropriate than an onslaught of numbers and data.
Despite some of its flaws, the intent behind such a device is noble. The fact of the matter is, many of us sit at desks all day staring at computer screens with no regard to our posture and the possible repercussions of sitting. So the real question is, is this an issue that can be solved through wearable tech?
What do you think: is there a better way to design an object like this that could be more intuitive and less distracting? Or is this an app you could actually see yourself using?