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8th January 2015

Migraine-combating, brain-fitness or just a chill-out? Headband medtech on the rise

It seems we just can’t get enough of wearables. But while on one hand developers are working on making them more discreet or even fashionable (ear buds, anklets, wristbands) there seems to be a group who decide to take another route. They create headsets… bulky, conspicuous and frankly a bit ridiculous looking headbands.

Mybrain Technologies’ Melomind is one of those who don’t seem to believe in much discretion. Their helmet-resembling headset is quite chunky, looks a bit like a pair of goofy antlers of the Christmas season. But that’s alright, if it works. It’s supposed to help us get rid of stress, by measuring our brain waves and then offering to play relaxing music (from your smartphone). And now comes the awkward silence  … because that’s mostly all it does.

The Muse looks a bit sleeker. And it serves as a trainer for our brain, teaching us how to relax, focus, and “change your brain” with short few minute exercises. Just as you would train your body, the mind needs attention training too.

‘It’s the mental equivalent of a treadmill, which helps you exercise your brain with focused attention training,’ the developers told the Daily Mail.

Korean Ybrain does not make you stress less or chill more. They promise to help the millions living with Alzheimer’s. The headband has embedded sensors that send electronic signals to the brain countering the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The trials show that the headband is up to 30% more effective than oral medication for the patients, and with new meds forecasted to come out a decade from now a headband may just be the best option.

Cefaly is a headband that actually looks cool and has put a simple goal in mind: to eliminate the throbbing pain in our head. Migraines are one of the most common neural conditions; according to the NHS every 5th woman and every 15th man suffers from migraines periodically. What makes migraines stand out from “just a headache” is usually the amount of pain, that will not go away with OTC meds. Cefaly uses neurostimulation: sending impulses to the nerves responsible for the pain. By using it for 20 minutes a day, the founders claim patients could prevent migraines, or reduce the symptoms if trouble is already on the way.

Though Dotor Xavier could pull it off quite well, I’m not sure when it will become a norm to see these on a morning train ride, a long-haul flight or after an exhausting meeting. But I also never foresaw selfie sticks become a reality.

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