Challenge 4: InScentive

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Our product is built on the idea that serial procrastinators have a weak conversion rate between motivation and action, specifically when this is due to time. Procrastinators are usually motivated by consequences, which are experienced most strongly after procrastination has already occurred. When procrastinators are supposed to act, they have already forgotten intensity of the consequences created by the last procrastination. To address this, we recruit the long-standing connection between our sense of smell and our memory (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15157428). When the user sets a reminder with our device, the user is particularly inspired. The device will emit a pleasant odor at this point in time, as a sort of reward for being inspired. Later, when the reminder comes back up, the device emits the same odor again, attempting to invoke that same feeling of inspiration. While the user is working, the device will periodically emit the same smell, to again summon the feeling of inspiration. Note that in our current iteration, the Arduino lights up instead of emitting the odor; the core concept still remains the same. We think that this design is particularly desirable because it combines positive reinforcement with an appeal to emotion. The product is designed to build an association between inspiration and a particular smell, and is incentivized to continue using the device as this association becomes stronger. It also works to “store” pre-existing motivation rather than create it from scratch in the user.

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