Contrary to popular belief, brain training wasn't first developed through the Dr Kawashima's series for the Nintendo DS back in 2005. No – the concept of brain entrainment, and testing the different planes the brain operates at, was first recorded back in 1665, by Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens.
However, training the brain to remain at the point where it's at its most productive, and where it can remove self-limiting beliefs, isn't something that happens overnight – most people subconsciously flow between different states without realising.
This habit of brain indiscipline is why the benefits of meditation often aren't visible for many years; simply trying to focus the brain isn't enough to see an immediate benefit. But looking to help with that struggle is GuruGo, a Coloradan startup whose wearable headset aims to help propel users into higher brain states more easily.
Available on Kickstarter for $197 – $100 off its planned after-campaign price – the device's primary purpose is to help bring the techniques of brain entrainment to a user's home, meaning they don't have to enlist the help of a hypnotherapist to help them overcome personal obstacles.
"My father is actually the inventor of the device – he's spent his entire life trying to improve himself through personal development programmes," GuruGo's Megan Sweeney tells us. "He's a certified hypnotist, but he knew he could have a greater impact by creating a device that would allow people to empower themselves using the innate power of their minds at home."
"The journey began way back when he was a child, and went through a very traumatic situation – he’d actually found his mother had committed suicide when he came home from school when he was a 12-year-old. After experiencing that trauma, he grew up and had a great desire to help people.
Essential reading: Stress tracking tech to keep you sane
"But because of it – and when people have been through this kind of trauma, as I’ve found in my personal experience and through the studying we’ve done – he often self-sabotaged. So, people experience a bad situation, then they attribute this bad situation to themselves, and make it their fault," Sweeney continued.
In order to combat the self-limiting behaviour that comes with trauma, or indeed any personal obstacles your mind has set for you on the road to achieving a goal, Sweeney indicates that brain entrainment is the answer – and, more specifically, the method developed through the GuruGo headset, which uses light, custom isochronic tones, guided meditation and hypnosis techniques.
"Brain entrainment is basically about having a natural response with your brain," he said. "You provide a synchronised input, and in this case it’s the light and sound in the headset – there’s plenty of studies out there to suggest this can create different brain states – and the device puts those two modalities together. What it does is sync with your brain based on a particular frequency of flashes and auditory beats into higher brain states – so, alpha, beta and gamma brain states."
Alpha brain states are akin to light meditation, and is often when you'll find yourself getting a flash of concentration or creativity. However, as we've said, slipping into beta through performing mindless tasks is easy done. What GuruGo does, according to Sweeney, is take you into an alpha state and beyond consistently, in order to let you reach your peak and bypass self-limiting reasoning.
"You might think that you can’t lose weight because you say to yourself that your genetics in your family have made you that way, for example. But when you’re in higher brain states, we've found that you bypass all that reasoning.
"When we first had our prototype about a 18 months ago, we tested it against the Muse headband and we wanted to see the brain’s responses. What it showed was that that the brain was getting into better states in just a couple of minutes – and that was just a very brief test period," she said.
We've come across plenty of wearables before GuruGo that aim to tap into the brain's potential and help improve your quality of life. However, we've yet to see a device that uses the same entrainment methods as this startup.
It's certainly not the easiest concept to grasp, even after watching the campaign video shown above and going through some light reading on the topic. But it does open up a different avenue of mind harnessing for those looking to develop themselves.
On the surface, this is a wearable that lets you reach more productive brain states more consistently, but it also likely requires some perseverance and understanding from the user – you're still not going to just put it on and magically turn into Bradley Cooper in Limitless.
However, as Sweeney told us, the method is already backed by studies performed in the neuroscience community, which should ease any concerns over the validity of the technology – GuruGo is simply about bringing that to life through its headset.
Whether it's able to achieve this aim through the current campaign remains to be seen, but this is one device we'll have our eye on in the future. Brain entrainment may seem like an out-of-reach concept for the masses right now, but the trickle of related wearables suggest that it may not be long until devices like this become commonplace.
If you can't wait until then, GuruGo appears worthy of a deeper inspection.
How we test