Big Ideas: “A smart bracelet that can help you break your bad habits” with HabitAware Cofounder, Aneela Idnani
February 23, 2019
As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change the World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Aneela Idnani. Aneela is Cofounder & President ofHabitAware. HabitAware created its Keen smart bracelet to help people “Retrain the Brain” from unwanted behaviors, like hair pulling disorder (trichotillomania), compulsive skin picking (dermatillomania) & nail biting to healthier behaviors. Having grown up hiding her hair pulling disorder in shame, Aneela is now an outspoken mental health advocate, raising awareness of these very common yet unknown conditions. HabitAware is partly funded by a research grant from the NIH and was named a TIME Magazine 2018 Best Invention.
Ellen Crupi can easilyrecall when she first pulled out a strand of her long dark hair in the same way some people might remember their first kiss or losing their first tooth. She was 12 years old and in gym class at her suburban Rhode Island middle school, waiting for teams to be chosen.
“I was probably just playing with my hair to calm myself down, and I pulled a piece out. I don’t know why,” says the 54-year-old Crupi, who lives in Bethesda. “Ever since that moment, I was hooked. I just felt a zing.”
Pulling out her hair became a coping mechanism for Crupi, a way to tackle anxiety or even boredom, and nothing she was too concerned about at first.
Through a study funded by the grant award, HabitAware will evaluate the feasibility of Keen as an official treatment for trichotillomania. Simultaneously, Keen will be further developed into a tool for self-administration of Habit Reversal Training (HRT), one of few verified treatments currently in existence.