The merging of biosensor information from wearable devices into digital health experiences has empowered consumers with more personalized feedback. This feature has the potential to create a more integrated and streamlined approach to digital health and data management for end-users. This system would include personalized recommendations across various wellness applications, as well as real-time biofeedback for interventions and enhancements.
Neuroenhancement gadgets such as brain stimulators are marketed as a way to help people become more productive or elevate their moods. Most of these devices employ electroencephalography (EEG) scanning of the brainwaves. An example is the brain training headset and platform developed by Canada-based neurotech startup Sens.ai. According to the manufacturer, the device improves brain performance by utilizing EEG neurofeedback, infrared light therapy, and heart-rate variability training. The company claims that it’s “the first personalized and real-time adaptive closed-loop system that integrates brain stimulation, brain training, and functional assessments” into one headset.
One neuroenhancement device that employs a different method is Doppel, which transmits vibrations through a wrist-worn gadget that can be personalized to make people feel calm, relaxed, focused, attentive, or energetic. The Doppel wristband creates a silent vibration that mimics a heartbeat. Slower rhythms have a calming effect, while faster rhythms can help improve focus—similar to how music affects people. Even though Doppel feels like a heartbeat, the device won’t actually change heart rate. This phenomenon is simply a natural psychological response. In research published in Nature Scientific Reports, the Psychology Department at Royal Holloway, University of London found that Doppel’s heartbeat-like vibration made wearers feel less stressed.
Some companies are noticing the efficacy of neuroenhancers in improving the workforce’s health and productivity. In 2021, digital mining firm Wenco acquired SmartCap, touted as the world’s leading fatigue monitoring wearable. SmartCap is an Australia-based firm that uses sensors to measure fluctuating stress and fatigue levels. The technology has over 5,000 users in the mining, trucking, and other sectors worldwide. The addition of SmartCap allows Wenco’s safety solution portfolio to include a strategic fatigue monitoring capability. Mines and other industrial sites require long hours of monotonous labor while maintaining constant attention to the surrounding environment. SmartCap considerably enhances the capacity for workers in the vicinity of the equipment to stay safe.
Meanwhile, neurotechnology and meditation firm Interaxon released its virtual reality (VR) software development kit (SDK) in 2022, along with a new EEG headband compatible with all major VR head-mounted displays (HMDs). This announcement follows the launch of Interaxon’s second-generation EEG meditation & sleep headband, Muse S. With the advent of web3 and the Metaverse, Interaxon believes that real-time biosensor data integration will have a significant influence on VR apps and experiences in this next stage of human computing and digital interaction. With ongoing advancements, these technologies will soon be able to use data from users’ physiology to improve predictions of mood and behavior. By delivering personalized experiences, they will have the ability to change emotional and cognitive states.
Implications of neuroenhancers
Wider implications of neuroenhancers may include:
- The combination of VR gaming with EEG headsets to enhance players’ focus and enjoyment.
- Neuroenhancement devices being increasingly tested to improve mental health, such as easing depression and anxiety attacks.
- Meditation companies partnering with neurotech firms to integrate apps with these devices for more effective meditation and sleep assistance.
- Labor-intensive industries, such as manufacturing and construction, using fatigue monitoring devices to increase worker safety.
- Enterprises using EEG headsets and VR/augmented reality (AR) systems to provide personalized and realistic training.
Questions to comment on
- If you have tried a neuroenhancement device, what was the experience like?
- How else can these devices help you in your work or daily life?