Anti-distraction button seeks to increase productivity online

Many of us admit to battling to stay focused whilst on the internet - according to a recent survey, 73% of employees under 35 admitted to spending time inappropriately online. But help may be at hand - literally - from a startup which has created a physical button that stops internet users from wanderering online and makes its users more productive.

A Beijing-based company called Saent has created a button and accompanying app which blocks sites and other apps identified as "unproductive" and increase a person's productivity online. Once you hit the button, you're in virtual lockdown, banning distractions such as social media for 30, 50 or 90-minute sessions. The button then flashes when you're allowed your next fix from the social web.

Founded last year, Saent (pronounced "saint"), claims that just 3% of people can effectively multi-task online. The rest of us are just "task switchers", prone to making mistakes and producing poor quality work. The Saent device will help users to "lead better, more productive lives".

The app blocks sites and other applications on the internet that distract people from their work, although the company doesn't elaborate on which sites other than social media it might have in mind.

But according to Beijing-based Dutch founder Tim Metz, although the product can work as a standalone app, the wireless Saent button is key for the product's long-term success. "If it's just virtual, you're probably going to forget about it," Metz told Mashable.

"If you have a physical or visual cue, that makes any behavior change much stronger if there's something in the environment to actually remind you," he said.

The device also tracks the progress of your work allowing it to gather data on your work patterns, and generate reports based on your working behavior, such as the times of the day when you are most and least productive, when paired via bluetooth with your laptop or desktop loaded with the Saent app.

There's also a competitive element with points accumulated for time spent distraction-fee on the app's dashboard, encouraging competition within households or between colleagues at work.

Saent is funding and launching its smart device through donations made to Indiegogo, a website designed to enable entrepreneurs to promote and fundraise new, innovative products. On Indiegogo tech enthusiasts can also pre-order their own Saent package in advance.

The company hopes to start selling and shipping the completed packages for between $49 and $69 from November onwards, but you can pre-order one via the Indiegogo campaign for $39.

Metz says the target market is broad: "From our early user research we've found remote workers and those who work in startups or open offices to be particularly excited about the device."