Innovation That Matters

App rewards students for ignoring their iPhone during class


Pocket Points rewards those students who resist checking their iPhone during class with discounts and deals from local businesses.

Smartphone owners, quite literally, now have the internet at their finger tips at all times, which has opened up a world of possibilities unknown to previous generations. Unfortunately, it also means that current generations are more easily distracted than ever before. As a result, we’ve seen numerous apps which deter owners from using their phones at inappropriate times. RodeDog penalizes drivers who text behind the wheel, for example, and now Pocket Points renumerates students who can resist checking their phones during lessons — rewarding them with discounts at local stores.

Well-intentioned students can download the app onto their iPhone for free. At the start of class they simply open the application and lock their phone. The longer the phone remains untouched the more points they earn — 20 minutes earns one point and rewards usually cost ten or fifteen points. Students then visit the online gift store where they convert their points into coupons to be redeemed at participating local stores. Businesses signed up for the scheme can offer anything from a free coffee to ten percent off all instore clothing — they can create their own offers and add, remove and update them via the Pocket Points Business Portal.

Pocket Points enables businesses to market themselves to a key demographic cheaply and easily. It encourages students’ loyalty to local stores and motivates them to pay attention in class. The app was developed at Penn State and California State University, Chico, and the platform is currently available in those towns. The team behind it hope to expand it across the states soon. Are there other disagreeable consumer activities which could be discouraged through similar schemes?



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