By Rick Armstrong, producer and Renee Chou, anchor/reporter
WAKE FOREST, N.C. — A device developed by a Wake Forest company sends students reminders to focus in the classroom.
Sitting still and paying attention does not come naturally for many school-aged children. This led Rich Brancaccio, a former school psychologist, to create a device to help children focus and stay on task.
Cora Sykes, 11, is very bright, but her school grades don't always reflect it. "I've always noticed that Cora had some focus struggles," Cora's mother, Jenny Davis, said.
Davis tried medication to help Cora focus, but it wasn't a good fit. "It wasn't making me feel how I wanted to feel, and it was making me too focused," said Cora.
Attention disorders and difficulties are a common struggle for many families who, often, can't find a good solution.
Brancaccio knew scolding students usually doesn't work. Instead, he created a device children can wear on their wrists called the Revibe Connect.
"I thought, let's come up with something new and let's try to empower the kids themselves," Brancaccio said. "But the part that was always missing was that little extra nudge to remind them to get back on task."
Revibe works through a phone app to detect kids' fidgety behavior in class at times when focus is required. Jenny can enter her daughter's class schedule data through the app. "You're able to create a schedule on the Revibe which is really nice -- and I can send notes to it, which is nice," said Jenny.
Vibrations on the wrist device are paired with screen text from Jenny like, "Are you paying attention?"
Cora can then tap the device once or twice to respond.
"I can say 'yes' or 'I'm not paying attention,'" Cora explained.
When Cora comes home from school, the Revibe goes off every day with another message: Don’t forget to do your homework!
Jenny can view the results over a week or over a month, and she has noticed progress when it comes to Cora's focus rate.
"Her attention span was 49 minutes -- which is fantastic," said Jenny. "Her teachers have noticed that her grades have been impacted by that."
A pilot study found that 83 percent of students with self-regulation deficits showed improvement when they wore the Revibe. The device costs about $150.