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11.AGO.17

Aimed to improve people’s lives

Ransomly founder, Zack Prager, spoke to us about his great new project, which will help you see what and who is really relevant in your life.

What made you create Ransomly?

I have a couple of backgrounds. One in software development and one in positive psychology or the science of well-being. I did my graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania under Martin Seligman, often credited with founding the field of positive psychology. While I was there, I did my thesis on developing applications that were informed by the science of well-being. Basically, the idea was to empirically figure out how to build apps that made people a bit happier.

Ransomly is one of those applications aimed to improve people's lives. Early research suggests that we spend too much time on our smartphones and it is disrupting our relationships and in some cases, our mental health. So I wanted to find a way to make it really easy to disconnect from a phone more often.

Creating these app-free zones with Bluetooth beacons was the best the way to go. It comes out of this idea of shaping environments for health. When you 'hack' your environment, you don't have to rely on your willpower to disconnect from your phone and you don't have to ask anyone else to put away their phone, it all happens automatically.

So the room itself creating space for real-connection instead of person creating space for real connection. If will power alone is relied upon to disconnect from the phone, 95% of people will likely fail in the long run. After all, apps are made to be addicting.

 

When did you notice phubbing was an actual issue?

It is hard to know the exact moment, but once I start looking for it, I saw it was everywhere. I was a phubber. My girlfriend was a phubber. My friends and my colleagues were phubbers. It was basically anywhere I turned.

 

What is Ransomly’s goal?

We want people to put down their phones more often and engage with the real world. In addition to the software, we are starting to create live events like 'meditation mobs' that help people spend an afternoon without phubbing anyone.

 

Ransomly is a curious name. How did you come up with it?

The original idea was to allow my girlfriend to block my apps until I did something around the house. I realized I was slipping in my household duties so instead of her having to remind me or nag me, I just created an app that allowed her to block any app on my phone. So in effect, I allowed her to "ransom" my phone until I did my work.

The idea evolved to build these distraction-free, app-free spaces in our home.

 

Do you really believe you can change the world?

Definitely. I think we have already helped a lot of people with our apps and beacons. And we have helped even more people by simply raising awareness of the issue.

 

Discover Ransomly.

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