It’s hard not to touch your face. But now, there’s an app for that

UH professor’s JalapeNO app helps break the face-touching habit

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Kim Binsted raises her hand to her face, it sets off vibrations in her Fitbit.

The University of Hawaii professor designed an app for the fitness tracker to help people remember to stop touching their faces.

And it has a catchy name.

"It's called JalapeNO because it's supposed be like you having jalapeno juice on your hands. You don't want to touch your face or nose," she said.

Studies show people touch their faces up to 25 times an hour. Medical experts want us to break that habit as a defense against coronavirus.

That gave Binsted an idea.

"I thought, 'Maybe I could use my Fitbit to help train me to help stop touching my face,'" she said.

Binsted teaches a class on designing for mobile devices. She also worked on the simulated Mars mission.

It took her only a couple of days to create the app that tracks the orientation of the wearer’s hand as at rises toward their face.

"I had to experiment a lot with hand positions to make sure I was getting them in the right range," she said.

Get the Fitbit too close to your face and you feel a pulse and hear a faint beeping sound.

"After wearing it for a day I found that my left hand was not going anywhere near my face," she said.

She also found her right hand wasn’t involuntarily touching her face either. The app works no matter which wrist the Fitbit is on.

She’s tested it on friends.

“To get it you go to Jalapenoapp.com and it will redirect you to the Fitbit page where you can download it with a click,” she said.

The JalepeNO app only costs 99 cents. Binsted said some of the proceeds will go to the Hawaii Foodbank.

She’s also working on a version for the Apple Watch.

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