Concentrating on what you’re doing can be tough at the best of times. Right now, with coronavirus-induced fears about everything from health to economic instability, isn’t the best of times.
A new iPhone-compatible wearable called Foci aims to help boost focus and productivity, however. It’s a small wearable device that clips to your waist and promises to track your breathing and cognitive states using machine learning technology. It then prompts you with gentle vibrations and reminders about whether you’re paying attention.
“Focus is really about getting into what psychologists call ‘flow,’ which is really a state of peak performance when you’re completely involved in an activity with intense focus and creative engagement,” Mick Adams, product manager at manufacturer Tinylogics, told Cult of Mac. “I’m sure you have experienced it before, where you have been so involved in doing something that you lost track of time. The experience by itself is pure enjoyment.”
While machine learning technology powers the gadget, the information the user sees on an interface level is pretty simple. There are colored bubbles which indicate whether you are focused, distracted, stressed — or performing well. It also promises to provide tools to help teach users to stay focused longer.
Foci will help you get in the focus zone
“The most exciting part for me is getting the bragging rights with friends of achieving flow during a ‘deep work session,’” Adams explained. “It is almost like me saying to my friends, ‘Hey guys, I ran 5k in 20 minutes’. [The] deep work session, a combination of in-work stats, distraction prevention and breath pacing, is the thing that helps me reproducibly build longer and longer flow. The record I’m holding at this moment is 56 minutes of continuous flow.”
Will it work? We’ll have to try it for ourselves to find out. The underlying technology, developed by Cambridge University grads, certainly seems solid and backed up by science.
As much as it might sound like magic, it’s really just about finding a way to measure a seemingly proven link between breathing and cognitive load. That link is something that machine learning can be used to uncover.
Foci started out as a crowdfunding project back in 2018. It’s now on its way to the market. Through Foci’s website, you can currently preorder the device. A single unit is currently available for preorder at $79. Adams said that shipping will take place in the next several weeks.