Sports headset that gives you shocks sells out
Tue 3 May 2016
Halo Neuro, creators of the literally shocking neuro primer system Halo Sport, have sold out of their first run of Halo Sport, and are assembling a waiting list for the next round of production. This represents one of the first forays into wearable technology in the cognitive assessment and training market, estimated to grow to $7.5 billion by 2020.
Halo Sport was created to increase athletic gains in skills and strength by using neuro primers to the athlete’s advantage. The Halo Sport system, worn on the head and ears like headphones, sends energy pulses directly to the brain during exercise, boosting the signals sent from the motor cortex to the muscles. By increasing excitability in the motor neurons, the communication between brain and muscle is maximized, which in turn should increase the benefits athletes see from each repetition. A user needs only to start a neuro priming session 20 minutes prior to their workout, using the headphones and the Halo app; when the neuro priming session is complete they can remove the headphones or use them to play music through their mobile device.
The Halo Sport team conducted research, partnering with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and with Michael Johnson Performance. In the case study with U.S. Ski and Snowboard, preliminary results showed that ski jumpers training with Halo Sport gained 31% improvement in propulsion force, 1.7 times higher than the control group. They also gained a 25% decrease in jump entropy, 1.8 times better than the control group. The athletes training at Michael Johnson saw an overall 12% increase over baseline in air squat, squat jump, and counter jump performance.
While Halo Sport is not the first to attempt to use neuro primers to boost cognitive training, they do have a jump on the market as far as easy, wearable technology. However, some question the safety of regular use. Gunnar Blohm, assistant professor at Canada’s Queen’s University, said, “To me it almost equivalent to giving you an experimental drug over the counter and saying ‘just go with it, have fun’ because it seems to be producing interesting effects that you might enjoy.” Professor Blohm went on to say that selling a device that involves transcranial direct-current stimulation to consumers is irresponsible in the absence of long-term studies of safety and effectiveness.
Dr. Daniel Chao, CEO and cofounder of Halo Neuro, encourages those with safety concerns to review the user data that they have garnered. Halo Neuro conducted over 2000 neuro stimulation sessions, and other studies have reviewed similar products with more than 60,000 sessions, and have found it to be safe. In fact, Chao himself along with select others have used the Halo Sport device for years and have seen no negative side effects. “This is how medical technologies start. It would be stifling to the advancement of technology if we required 20-year safety data for everything,” Chao says.