Connected Objects

kSafe serves up treats, motivation to meet your goals

In the Greek classic The Odyssey, the hero Odysseus ties himself to the staff to prevent himself from succumbing to the temptation of the Sirens. Most temptations we modern folks face are not quite so tempting, but it would be great if there were a way to use a similar level of what’s called pre-commitment n order to motivate us to achieve our goals.

That’s the premise behind kSafe, a smartphone-lockable jar that can hold a variety of treats until such time as one completes a predetermined goal. An example might be walking a certain number of steps per day or checking in at a gym, or waiting a certain amount of time. A ring of colored light on the top of the jar lights progress toward the goal. Its colors include an opaque black and white as well as a translucent option to maximize motivation/torture.

The product, based on psychology research from MIT and other sources, is an evolution of Kitchen Safe, an unconnected version that garnered an appearance on Shark Tank. The company seeks $50,000 by April 24 and expects to offer backers their own kSafe for $89 by October. The campaign also includes a number of stretch goals, the mot interesting of which kicks in at $350,000: the ability to have a friend unlock the container.

While the kinds of tasks that kSafe caters to are limited, the kinds of rewards it can provide are less so. Overall, the system is more versatile than other projects such as box&rox. More real-world exposure will test the positive results that the creators claim it has provided up to now.

Connected Objects

Fitlime cuts off juice, puts the squeeze on laziness

The Premise. If it wasn’t for distractions such as work and the family, fitness would be so much simpler. Well, okay, the TV, video games, smart phone, computer, social networking, iPad and various other gadgets might have a little something to do with it too. What if there was an electronic device that could assist people with restricting such distractions?

The Product. The Fitlime Air System is a combination of hardware and software that is ironically used to keep you from some of your favorite hardware and software. A bland black loxkbox prevents use of videogame consoles while the app is used to restrict permissions on phone or tablet apps such as games. The key for the lock device can be left with a trusted friend until workout goals are completed. Fitness goals are registered in the app by the user along with the offending gadgets of distraction; the company is planning to integrate with popular exertion tracking apps and devices such as RunKeeper and the Jawbone UP.

The Pitch. The idea for the product came to founder Trevor McGerri back in 2011 while working toward his dentistry degree; the aspiring oral doctor struggled with the newest gadgets distracting him from his fitness goals and studies. The campaign video hits on the idea of distractions interfering with fitness goals by using 1960s Woodstock-style music and a guy who zones out with his smartphone when it’s time to say his name. The point is accentuated by a woman who rolls off the gym treadmill while answering her ringing smartphone. Of course, as soon as someone says they’ve never heard of such a thing, a McDonalds-style lawsuit will be splashed all over mainstream headlines on just such an event.

The Perks. Before you have the privilege of self-denial, you’ll need the discipline to send at least $74 to the campaign, which is the price for a console. This includes the hardware locking device and a remote to unlock it plus apps to connect up to 10 devices, Depending on which tier a backer selects, the estimated delivery date would be anywhere from March to May of 2014

The Potential. From the time of Odysseus and the sirens, we’ve known that precommitment can be a powerful aid in resisting temptation. More recently, we’ve seen sites such as Stickk that require you to pay money when you miss certain goals. The Aim hardware device is similar in concept to Bob, designed to control tasks such as TV watching and game playing for kids. It, like the Aim, is ineffective for battery-controlled devices such as the iPad. Fitlime is trying to set straight tech junkies, game addicts, and those who tend to get wrapped up in TV, the Internet and social networking to the point of losing track of the time once they get started. But the veneer of prevention that it provides doesn’t appear to be enough of a deterrent.