Matt Toles

Slightly Robot Bracelet

Wearables for repetitive behaviors


Trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling disorder) and excoriation disorder (compulsive skin picking) affect close to 2% of the population each and onychophagia (compulsive nail biting) affects far more. Often inaccurately characterized as OCD, people with body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) as these are collectively known derive a temporarily pleasurable or calming sensation from pulling out their hair, picking at their skin, or biting their nails, sometimes triggered by boredom, stress, or anxiety. Unfortunately, the visible damage caused these behaviors can have cause stress when appearing in public, for example at work or school, and so BFRBs are associated with elevated rates of anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders. There are no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of BFRBs, so most clinicians resort to forms of therapy to help people cope.


For roughly half the population, awareness of the repetitive behavior is the most difficult part of quitting. People simply do not realize they are pulling, picking, or biting, even to the point where these behaviors have been documented in a patient's sleep. We developed the Slightly Robot Bracelet which tracks hand position and vibrates when the hand returns to a pre-calibrated position associated with a problematic behavior. Users can calibrate as many positions as necessary, controlling the bracelet and settings using a mobile app.

The device remains on the market and has sold over 1000 units to date.

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