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June 15, 2015

Sub-Saharan Africa: Get Some Good Habits Going with MOTI

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By Kim Muller

If you, dear readers, are anything like me, you’re a workaholic who tries to juggle everything at once to their own personal detriment. See, our brains only have so much capacity we can actually consciously use, and the things that stress us – the deadlines, the functions, essentially our work lives – take up much more time than the things that enrich us. Our personal lives are often left in the dust as we cultivate our careers. 

No more, says MOTI. Drinking more water, getting to bed early, even regular exercising aren’t simply good habits we dream of having, but can become a reality with a tiny, digital nudge. The adorable little gadget is based on key insights from behavioural science, social robotics and what’s known as the ‘quantified self movement’. Although wearables and mobile apps have been around for years, research shows they aren’t really achieving behavioural change. Go figure. MOTI taps into how humans emotionally connect to technology and what system of interactions, frequencies and reminders elicit responses. 

When we develop habits, our brains require three things: a trigger, a routine, and a reward. Unfortunately, most habits only offer delayed gratification and in our give-it-to-me-right-now world where fast food isn’t even fast enough for our liking, this is a problem. MOTI provides an immediate reward in the form of lights, sounds and haptics, giving you a jolt of delight. Plus, as a physical object, it becomes an environmental cue, an especially important form of trigger. Just think of how amused we are with toddlers when they’re mesmerised by pretty lights. Oh, the irony!

Because it takes time to form a habit, it’s vital that goals are broken down into bite-size pieces. Scientists call this “celebrating small wins” and it’s a key part of the MOTI experience. Additionally, it’s also important knowing your current progress at any given time. Tracking keeps you accountable (tell me about it, MOTI) and this you can do with the accompanying app. 

The MOTI’s cute, anthropomorphic shapes are also a result of behavioural studies. Their physicality, personality and semi-animalistic forms mean users relate to them and see them as companions rather than devices. The MOTI evolves to get excited about your progress and its three rather agreeable shapes offer endearing nudges instead of streams of data. 

The single downside of this fascinating contraption is that it’s still in development – sort of. The first round of applications is closed, and these lucky users will help influence future MOTI designs. For more info or to sign up for the public launch, visit www.moti.io. 


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