Wearable tech for the brain is getting more specific and so potentially more useful. It's still a pretty out-there category of tech, blurring the lines between health, science and consumer tech but there's some pretty amazing boasts flying around too.
If spending too long on the internet is turning our minds to mush, could wearables to train them up be the answer? And do we have the brainpower to fight the rush towards cyborg territory?
Which wearables? What training? Whose brain?
We'll work backwards. Firstly, any interested brain which is attached to a body with enough cash. There's been a trickle of devices interested in training your brain's memory and attention as well as less obvious uses like improving dexterity. No big names are going after this area yet but startups like Halo Neuroscience and Neuroverse are getting lots of attention.
It really is. Take Halo Sport and its process of 'neuropriming' before physical training. The headphones send a small electric current to your brain via electrodes on either side of your head.
This stimulates your motor cortex which in turn improves your response to athletic training - strength, dexterity, muscle memory and explosiveness. Athletes like Michael Johnson are using it before workouts, the same way they'd eat a specific meal pre-training.
So I'll win an Olympic medal if I use it?
Not quite, the gains are made in conjunction with training involving a high volume of repetitions so basketball, baseball and football players could buy the $699 consumer version.
OK, sports. What else is happening?
Well, elsewhere there's Neuroverse's BrainStation. It's not out yet but there's a lot of buzz and it's billed as a Fitbit for the brain.
Oh good, my brain is getting flabby.
Evidently. So, the BrainStation uses EEG sensors to detect brain markers which indicate brain waves relating to memory and attention. Games are designed to signal attention span, memory, reaction times and decision making. Oh, and it could transform VR too.
Virtual reality, VR. As in focus and relax to control objects and blink to shoot, for instance. Neuroverse has opened up its API to work with Unreal and Unity.
Haven't I seen these brain gadgets before?
What we're seeing now is more specific reasons you'd want to buy one, more than just 'stimulate your brain' or 'de-stress', noble goals as they are.
Wait, what does the science say?
Good question. The short answer is that there have been a few scientific studies into the effectiveness of EEG gadgets but much, much more is needed. Here's the long answer.
Sooooo wait and see?
Perhaps, perhaps. The question is do our brains act in the way these companies suggest and can they accurately measure it. We'd certainly recommend checking out the credentials and testimonies for this sort of kit before you buy. We try to only feature companies we've spoken to with legit products in this space but, as we said, the science isn't nailed on yet.