Hawaii scientist releases wearable app to stop face touching

JalapeNO! warns users any time they raise their hand to touch their face with a vibration


One of the simplest things you can do to prevent the spread of disease is often one of the hardest to remember: don’t touch your face.

The more you think about not touching your face, the more you want to do it. And when you stop thinking about it, you do it accidentally. But a Hawaii-based scientist and software developer has come up with a simple app for wearables to solve the problem.

Released first for the FitBit Ionic wearable fitness devices, JalapeNO! warns users any time they raise their hand to touch their face with a vibration. A version for the popular Apple Watch is forthcoming.

Kim Binsted

JalapeNO! is the creation of Kim Binsted, a professor at the University of Hawaii who is currently teaching a class on Design for Mobile Devices in the Information Computer Sciences department.

On average, office workers touch their faces 23 times per hour, with almost half involving contacts between hand and nose, eyes or mouth, Binsted explains. Her solution? Treat your hands as if you have been chopping jalapeno peppers for a family of seven billion people.

“This started as gallows’ humor – making an app that buzzed every time I bring my hands to my eyes during a global pandemic – but then I put it on and JalapeNO! actually worked,” Binsted says.

JalapeNO! is a personal project that made her laugh, but quickly became a useful app to train people to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth.

“When you touch your face, every noxious thing on your fingertips gets ‘jalpeno business,'” Binsted jokes. “Get it? ‘All up in yo business!'”

JalapeNO! is available now for the Fitbit Ionic for $0.99. For more information, visit JalapenoApp.com.

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