A company, Halo Neuroscience claims that they have developed a wearable from the future. If the claim is true, then this piece of wearable technology can boost the physical capabilities of athletes and more. How? Using an existing neurostimulation technique called transcranial direct current stimulation, they claim that they can essentially accelerate and athlete’s learning process, and hone in on their skills. And yes, they have tested this. They conducted controlled tests that reveal they can perform better than a control group, noting specifically when it comes to skill acquisition that the learning rate is “about 2x” better with their device (they say they have tested it in controlled lab conditions with around 1,000 subjects). This makes sense, but has never been applied to a consumer product. There has been extensive research on transcranial direct current stimulation, most of it being related to depression, stroke, chronic pain and brain injury. Much of the research does conclude that transcranial direct current stimulation does improve motor learning skills; now these findings are simply being applied to athletic training. Strength and athletic training is based on repetition – doing something enough times that the movement is “learned.” Certainly when we repeat a movement, or a visit to the gym, over and over, we become stronger. However, we typically don’t think about how large of a role our brain plays in developing athletic abilities. Ultimately, our brains control every muscle movement we make. This has been under-appreciated in the field, and this is exactly where this device comes in. How Much Will This Device Cost You? It is rumored that the product will become available this upcoming fall, with a pre-order price of $550, and a full price of $750. Who’s Buying? Thus far, it is difficult to say, however they have said that demand is “good.” Their target market is elite athletes looking to improve their performance. There is also a great deal of interest from the MLB. As you could expect, teams that don’t have the money to buy good players can instead spend $750 to develop players. What Exactly Is the Product? This first product, Halo Sport, is a set of electrodes that is placed on the wearer’s scalp. The electrodes are positioned specifically over the motor cortex and emit small levels of electric current to the brain. Are There Problems Associated With It? Thus far, they have not reported any problems or side affects with the product, other than feeling a little “buzzy.” Most also report no discomfort in wearing the device. They say it’s not a pleasant experience, but also not an unpleasant experience – just neutral. What’s Next? Considering the majority of the research in neurostimulation has been in the medical field, you and I alike, are probably surprised that the first wearable neurostimulation device was designed for athletes, and not medical patients. But, they say that this is the next step. With over a million people suffering from motor symptoms (such as not being able to move an arm or leg), they expect that with more research, they will soon develop a device that aims to help these victims. They also hope to use the future device to rehabilitate the motor skills of stroke victims. Finally, they say that this device triggers the motor cortex, but there’s no saying that it has to stop here. In the near future, they may try to develop a device to improve memory in people.
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