I believe that anyone can change their life if they want to, but they just need to do it with a right tools. This project started with researching human behaviour and how the brain functions then went deeper into how to change people’s behaviour.

Phabit is designed as a tool for changing your life—it can help you foster good habits and avoid bad ones by providing you with tailored suggestions and support using a curated physical/digital experience. The Phabit experience starts with an app where users login with their social media accounts and take assessments which separate people into four different tendencies (The FourTendencies, as developed by GretchenRubin) based on their habit-forming personality.

The app then monitors the user’s habit-forming behaviour, using their device, without nagging and the hassle of active input to the tool. The data Phabit collects is converted to energy for activating a device that waters and gives sunlight to a companion plant. If the user does not actively perform activities to build their habit, the plant will slowly become sickly and die. As good habits are formed, the plant grows and thrives. This physical experience, supported by a digital system, gives the user a clear understanding of their progress towards achieving their goal in a unique way.

Process / Insight

After habit building research and surveys, experiments and deeper interviews were conducted in different directions to explore which method was the most efficient way to develop and maintain a habit.

The first one was how to help people to keep their promises: I use a contract to tie two people with the same goals to see if we can improve the success rate of habit-forming. The contract  was design such that two people put something they like and have a strong connection with in a box and things in the box will be destroyed if one of them broke the contract.

The second research direction was "could we measure will power", which from research was one of the most important sources of energy, for humans, to push us forward to do something we don’t want to do. I made an simple mobile app to, experiment with measuring will power. I tell subjects when they make a decision they push the app button and write down the decision. Pushing the button more for harder or more complex decisions.

The third experiment tested if people with different personalities responded differently to various different types of motivation and feedback.

Many interesting insights were found in the results of the experiments:

1. People can be divided into four different types in regards to habit building: 1. Rebel, 2. Questioner 3. Obliger 4. Upholder (Categorised by Gretchen Rubin a researcher & Writer ) If you build a habit with a companion that has a the same personality type any motivations will be multiplied.
2. When an action will result in physical benefit/harm to others, people will consciously choose actions to avoid that harm, that assisting in building(or loosing a habit). For example: Many people will wait until they are pregnant to really quit smoking.
3. People think it is annoyed when they to use the app to record things and they will forget. The physical tool remind them to do a action easier. Visualising the willpower drives people  to want to complete more tasks

Design / Prototyping

From the insights I found I design a habit forming system and a product called "Phabit". The Phabit product combines the Phabit pot device and the Phabit App, is created using Swift code and the incubator is created by JavaScript, Google Cloud connections and Python on a RaspberryPi Zero. Different materials and types were tested in the process. In the end I used a specially coated 3D printed base for the soil and to ensure it was waterproof. A pump controlled by the raspberry Zero created the water shower for the plants, and special lighting created more subtle visual cues using different hues and intensity of the colours to indicate positive or negative progress. A special IPad version is made for the Royal College of Art / Imperial College of London degree show, to enable people can use it to interact with the product.

Phabit Pot

Design goal for the Phabit Pot is elegant and simple with no cable or protrusions outside the form. For achieving that I design a mechanism that water flow control by water valve through gravity and I use a water tight rubber seal around the ring to connect water container with control centre without extra part, makes it easy to open/close for maintain. With the water tunnel, It can have a raining feeling with little water.

Phabit App

The main information is on the bottom. The top image is how many percentage that user already achieved, at the start of their journey the circle is greyscale and small, with colour returning as the user progresses, and the circle border will become stronger and brighter, designed around more subtle and subliminal feedback. In the lower part, you can choose to link with other users to set and achieve goals together, with increased rewards for team successes.

Every day, the latest news or knowledge, connected with the user’s habit, will show in the articles area to give users have better understanding themselves or how to achieve their goals. When the user returns home (or wherever the physical Phabit device is), if they have generated enough Phabit energy points, Phabit will start automatically taking care of the companion plants. Plants are specially selected to respond quickly to appropriate attention to give the user’s active feedback.

Future Plan

I believe Phabit can change a person’s habits by connecting the future image of themselves with a living plant. The connection with the external object triggers their subconscious to guide them in making the right kind of choices for the habit they want to adopt. After discussing with Dr. Gabija Toleikyte, a neuroscientist and business coach, she confirmed that if Phabit is successful in forming a connection between the plant and the user’s future image of themselves, then Phabit will be successful in creating a “habit highway” within the users’ brains. A habit highway is the neural link between different brain areas that increases the efficiency of different behaviours, in this case, the habit that the user wants to form.

Phabit is the future of habit building devices with IOT Technology. In the future, to extend the range and impact of Phabit, I hope to cooperate with council and businesses to place Phabit in public-spaces such as gyms, libraries and schools or put in workplace .

Media Releases

Elle Poland
IFL Science