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.
"Something I have struggled with, for literally over 20 years, is pulling my hair out. I’m not talking about those silly cartoon moments, where a character is “pulling their hair out” because they’re frustrated. This is something that’s much more in-depth, and more serious. Hair-pulling falls under the category of Body-focused repetitive behaviours or BFRBs, for short. This also includes nail-biting, and skin picking, etc."
"You probably know someone who bites their nails. Heck, it's so common you might even do it yourself. But while you might dismiss it as just a 'bad habit,' it's actually categorized as a Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB) — a general term for a group of related disorders that involve the manipulation of hair or skin on the body."
"To go along with this mindfulness recognition, I've found it helpful to have a Keen bracelet, made specifically for people with BFRBs by the company HabitAware. They buzz when your hands are in your trigger area so you can take a second to re-assess. I've found this bracelet to be extremely effective in noticing patterns, plus it even has an app to show you your progress and determine patterns."