Zapping your brain with electricity is often associated with archaic psychiatric practices. That is now set to change as Focus Labs use the juice to crank our brains to 11. The foc.us gamers headset is being marketed in just this way, giving gamers the edge, making super soldiers out of sedentary gamers the headset will overclock your mind.
Using transcrainial direct current stimulation (tDCS) the foc.us headset promises to soup up your noggin by making your synapses fire faster (than a speeding bullet?), while also increasing the plasticity of your personal neural network, all very bold claims.
The headset itself uses an arrangement of four electrodes positioned to stimulate the prefrontal cortex, the section of your brain responsible for decision making. With spare sponges (keep them moist) any gamer should be able to be better than their best, right until smoke starts pouring out of their ears.
There are no controls on the headset itself, all controls are operated via the companion Android (4.3) or iPhone application. The app connects to the headset via bluetooth allowing you to control the intensity and duration of the session.
Putting electrodes on our heads developed kind of a bad reputation in the 70’s, due in no small part to Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). This mad scientist psychiatric technique induced convulsions by way of large electrica; jolts. The treatment was widely practiced until ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ made everyone really sad. It is still used to this day, shockingly, as a treatment for clinical depression that hasn’t responded to other treatments.
tDCS has been around nearly as long as electricity itself, over a hundred years. Modern medicine still uses the technique to help stroke patients improve their cognitive performance. Scientists believe tDCS improves linguistic ability, attention span, problem solving, memory and co-ordination.
There are of course a number of other options for impatient gamers who want to overclock the old grey matter. Energy drinks, coffee, sugar and a bit of sun will all have similar effects. The more adventurous should perform a quick search on YouTube which easily turns up a number of do it yourself kits and tutorials. Caution should probably be taken before you try to repeat anything you see on YouTube though.
The whole risk versus benefit equation is still up in the air when it comes to the foc.us headset, a frighteningly cool looking device. For most people tDCS will offer only slight improvement in cognitive performance, equivalent to a cup of coffee of breath of fresh air (cigarette). Something as simple as sleep will make many orders of magnitude difference over all of these solutions.
Obviously Focus Labs are going to have quite a PR job on their hands; the blow back from the initial series of press releases is still being felt around the web. Responses have varied from ‘Is this real’ to ‘Really electricity and your head’ a,amongst the Technorati.
For those gamers wanting to explore the extreme of their ability Focus Labs gives us the foc.us headset. This latest piece of gadget headgear will set you back $249 USD, once they’re available for order in July. Will foc.us headsets become the EPO of professional gamers? Will gamers caps soon need to be checked for electrodes?
Reference: Focus Labs