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Smart Headband Claim to Make People Calmer

Smart Headband Claim to Make People Calmer

Wednesday, 13 October, 2021 - 05:00
Tennis - Australian Open - Semi Final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 30, 2020. Switzerland's Roger Federer reacts during his match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Emma Baumert admits that when she first put on the high-tech headband she felt silly.

"But I also felt so cool wearing it, because I'm such a nerd."

The 24-year-old from Illinois is a member of the USA Bobsled/Skeleton development team.

An all-round athlete, she is also a qualified weightlifting coach, and this year gained a master's degree in exercise physiology, according to BBC.

The headband she now uses is a neurofeedback or EEG (electroencephalogram) device. Growing in popularity among sports people, they measure the wearer's brainwaves.

As a stressed brain gives off more waves or signals, due to increased electrical activity, the idea is that, together with meditation, the headbands can help the user and train him to be calmer. And then in turn boost their performance.

But are such devices, which are otherwise used by doctors to test for conditions such as epilepsy and strokes, really beneficial in helping people to reduce their stress?

Baumert says she wanted to find out after trying out a headset called FocusCalm two years ago. "After using it myself, I was like 'I want to do more research on this," she says.

So, she contacted the firm behind the product, Massachusetts-based BrainCo. Given her relevant university studies, and her weightlifting and winter sports participation, they invited her to become a part-time, but paid, researcher for a few months in 2020, and again earlier this year.

Baumert is now convinced the device works. "I got to visualize and learn how to have better control, and what training I need to do to get into a more relaxed state, while still being able to have very high explosive power output."

Max Newlon, president of BrainCo, explains that the headband uses an AI (artificial intelligence) software algorithm to monitor 1,250 "data points" in a person's brainwave signals. Connected to a mobile phone app, it then scores them on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being calmest.

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