Can the problem of technology gobbling too much of your attention will be fixed by buying more technology? Vinaya, the launch of the UK, which began in mid-2013 – and now announces the launch of its first full product specification of its business philosophy and details of $ 3 million in seed funding – says so


Investors in the launch include some familiar names, with Eileen Burbidge Passion Capital leading the round. Others put in the financing include former partner index Robin Klein, Carmen Busquets, Playfair Capital, Michael Birch and others.

mission in the vinaya: applied research psychologist in the process of product creation technologies to try to build products that are more sensitive to human habits – and contribute to the emotional state of, for example, allows for a more controlled use of technology. Or the development of technologies that are sensitive to the mood of the user, so, apparently, can dial up a ping notification if the owner seems to be stressed.

Vinaya is the creation of what he calls “research lab” – aims to feed the idea of ​​the human brain / habits in the development of its products. The recently announced an investment of seed will go towards the establishment of the laboratory, as well as increased production of the first line of the product, and Product Dev work on its next product (still in stealth).

“We realized that a little gap between the way the technology has been built in the culture of start-up and so that the garments are constructed, in particular, but also digital products – and the actual academic, research that should go into the development of these products “says co-founder and CEO Keith Unsworth.

We live in a world where we expected to be online to some extent, and what we’re trying to do, this is the level of connectedness more personal.

“From what I have seen … it usually happens, someone has a bright idea that resonates with them, and then they come back and then rationalizing it and say, OK, let’s find the science to prove it. Maybe Now every time it is the other way around, but I think that, as a rule, this kind of health care and the type of well-being products of mental seems to be a real gap between the real research going on in academia or in research institutions, and then actually finding appropriate means of obtaining that to the consumer. “

Run, formerly known as Covert samples, not talk too publicly about fully their plans, but Unsworth says vision is to use data analysis “of brain activity and psychology to try to understand how people feel -. And due to the fact that the types of products that we can build to help them feel better “

One of future products, codenamed Zephyr, is smart home device, but the initial product is a range of high-end jewelry worn called Altrius.

first collection Altrius begins in pre-order now for delivery in time for the holiday – although the first version of the product has also been soft launched in a limited edition last Christmas. The overall objective of a wearable, to help “hyper” related technology users to stop digging your phone out of your pocket every few minutes to see if they have any new messages.

Elements in wearable collection Altrius made of high-end materials, including silver, gold plating and so on, with the connected technology embedded in a “rock” into individual pieces. The initial three garments are :. A connected ring, bracelet and necklace, priced at £ 220, £ 250 and £ 275 respectively

first collection designed for women, but plan to expand to the male line in the future, according to Unsworth. Users can choose which item best suits them – and can choose to wear all three (full #fashion), but there is no reason based on the technology to do it; only one will be associated with concomitant application IOS, to function as a filter notifications.

Like other wearable notifications (for example, Apple, watch) or current-related jewelry (eg, Ringly) idea of ​​Altrius a jewelry vibrates for user notifications (they are configured using the application) – so the user can set their own settings for when they absolutely need to be alerted of incoming messages.

, allowing them to – in theory – leave your phone in your bag / pocket more. (Of course, they still need their phone near / on their faces as jewelry links to it via Bluetooth.)

One of the features Altrius that Unsworth flags as “novel” against other similar handheld notice is a feature called “secret speech”, which allows users to select and provide a specific keyword for the people – such as key colleagues, for example – so these people can specifically override the Do-Not-Disturb settings user Altrius, when they really need to get in touch with them



Unsworth, a former technical consultant to the mathematics degree, says that the idea for the startup came to her as a result of her own battle to disconnect from technology. “I was managing a large team of developers building sites and applications, websites and all sorts. It reached the point where I was just so dialed in I was here 24/7, I just hit that tipping and I realized that I actually developed this unhealthy relationship with my technology, “she says TechCrunch. “It was a distraction from who I really am.”

Altrius has been designed for the same as “hyper-connected people, to help them try to regain control of their notices,” she says.

“This is a collection of smart designer jewelry is very high … in comparison with many other wearable there is a silver, gold, and we treat it very much like a jewelry line. And the purpose of the product to help you understand your digital habits and take control of your smartphone addiction, “she adds.

“Super simple in terms of actual functionality – which allows you to set different profiles. So I have a job and the game, and each profile, you can add specific people. And you can turn on and off, which notice may be over by the people – as e-mail, text, WhatsApp, phone calls. Thus, you get a vibration when these specific people to contact you. “

people can not just install profiles on their smartphones to do it? And / or dial back the specific notification application? And / or set the “Do not disturb” function on your phone?

Of course they can, but Unsworth claims that software-based filter features still require people to interact with their phone – and so encourage their absorption back into the addictive cycle test notice they are trying to avoid in the first place.

“The problem is that these are not the tools that create problems. It is in fact our own psychological behaviors,” she says. “So it’s really how the brain is to blame, not the technology. Thus, the wires of the brain in different ways in order to get the rewards that your smartphone notice given, right. He literally re-rides their synapses, as it is in the quickest route to get the reward, so that you may have an application on your phone, or you might be able to go to the settings on your phone, and set specific filters are not really useful.

“Because as soon as I look at my phone, my mind still wants to check email and update, and he still wants to check Instagram or what it is. So in fact it is the understanding of behavioral psychology neurology and also behind it. And there are tons of studies that show that is actually a visual stimulae, that causes us to be distracted. ”

“In this case, it’s really a question of sight, out of mind,” she adds. “So, if we can build products and tools that allow you to stay more connected, but keep the screen from view – so you can stay focused on what’s happening -. Then it turned out to be really useful”

Watch What about Apple? Not quite like stepping Altrius base there? Unsworth claims not – dubbing Apple Watch, “a means of ensuring” when it comes to the “hyper-connected / digitally dependent” technology users, as it claims, it makes notice “more affordable”


“For digital addict … have a screen on the wrist that makes it more accessible notification only exacerbates the problem,” she adds.

Since a large market of “hyper-connected / digital addicted to” the target market for products in the vinaya? It clarifies says Unsworth, who did not offer any indication of the size of the market of business seeks to resolve.

“We’ll see,” she says. “We get very good feedback from the parents of the young professionals, students, but we have not gone on sale yet so we’ll see who it resonates the most. It is definitely a particular market, it is not for everyone. Some people want to be connected 24/7. And this product is not for them. It’s for people who are looking to find more ways to find balance in their lives. ”

If the balance is more / less tech you need, then buy more technology does seem quite contradictory message (against, for example, taking a meditation or yoga …). But perhaps the fact that some users of the technology just can not help themselves. – So when it comes to trying to turn off they would rather put on a tech to be “partially” linked

Whether this will ultimately help people improve their mental well-being, enabling them to monitor their technical ‘dependence’, or continues (drip) to feed that addiction with another way to stay in touch, presumably depends on the person.

“Some people demanded bosses, demanding jobs, some people have to be on call, maybe they nurse the sick parents in the hospital. We live in a world where we expected to be online to some degree and that what we’re trying to do is the level of connectedness more personal. So, instead of being turned on or off, we want to be able to say okay I’m 10 percent, connected only to the emergency notification. Or I 5 percent due or I 60 per cent are connected. But until these types of products, and these types of ideas, in fact, we did not have much choice, “adds Unsworth.