BBC Article: Smart Headbands claim to make people calmer. Do they Work?

BBC Article: Smart Headbands claim to make people calmer. Do they Work?

The short answer from FocusCalm is, “Yes! They do!” Let us tell you why and how.

FocusCalm was recently featured in an article by the BBC exploring the effects of smart headbands for people who aim to improve their ability to relax and focus their minds for sport performance or everyday activities. Let’s dive into some of the BBC’s most interesting points:

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 masters degree in exercise physiology.

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

The sensor on the FocusCalm headband reads your brain’s electrical activity. Using EEG and neurofeedback techniques, FocusCalm helps you learn how to manage your mindset through various meditations, games, and breathing exercises in the app. This way, you can practice relaxing your mind whenever you want to, especially when you begin to feel stress.

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 train him or herself to be calmer. And then in turn boost their performance.”

The FocusCalm headband detects the amount of electrical activity in your brain and translates it into your FocusCalm score. Using AI algorithms, we compare your brain activity to a model and show how closely you match the model on a scale from 0 to 100…That’s your FocusCalm score. The higher your score, the more relaxed you are. A lower score means your brain is active.

Ms Baumert is now convinced the device works. “I got to visualise 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.”

The combination of a calm mind focusing exclusively on the task at hand is what many athletes call “the zone.” But athletes aren’t the only ones that can benefit from this state of mind. Through FocusCalm’s neurofeedback exercises, you can retrain your mind to lower your brain’s baseline activity. The result is that your mind is able to find calm fast, whenever you want, and remain in that state even when times get tough.

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. Most of the time the average person apparently hovers around the 50 mark.

A FocusCalm score of 50 means your brain is neutral. It’s not overly active, but also not as calm or focused as it could be. The exercises in the FocusCalm app are designed to help you keep your FocusCalm score above 65 for as long as possible. We call each minute you spend with your score above 65 a FocusCalm Minute and track them in the app. Our research has shown that spending as little as 7 minutes a day with your score above 65 can have a measurable effect on your sense of well-being.

It’s a passive measure, there’s nothing going into your brain,” says Mr Newlon, who first started working on the technology in 2015. “We have people doing all different types of experiments, like spending time with their family… to learn about themselves and discover what puts them in that focused and calm state.”

Like physical exercise making the body stronger, Mr Newlon says that people can learn to relax their brain, and that once the skill is acquired, it sticks.

FocusCalm helps you train your brain to return to a calm and relaxed state, and stay there, on demand. Practicing with the FocusCalm headband for just a few minutes a day allows you to find a calm state of mind no matter what comes up in your day. Some users say it helps them be more present with their kids, more productive at work and feel better overall.

…Dr Steve Allder, a UK consultant neurologist, is supportive of consumer EEG devices, especially when they are used by athletes.

“Having any mind practice is likely to provide a performance advantage,” he says. “And using a tool that provides physiological feedback into the practice is likely to improve the depth of an individual’s ‘mind’ control, so tools with ‘neuro-feedback’ are helpful.

“The holy grail of elite athletes is to consistently access the ‘zone’. This type of practice will increase the chance of that.”

We work with athletes in all four major league sports as well as Olympic athletes who use FocusCalm to train their brains to do just that– access the ‘zone” consistently to improve their performance. Defensive end for the NY Giants, Logan Ryan put it this way, “You really have to be in a real state of alertness, but also calm and ready to react. That’s the ultimate state to be in the zone. FocusCalm teaches you how to get there without trying so hard.

Athletes on the USA Bobsled and Skeleton team use FocusCalm to visualize their performance during competition, as well as to relax their minds into a recovery state after an intense training session.

Back in the US, Ms Baumert says that while the headbands are very helpful, athletes should not see them as a “magic trick”.

“Take what you’ve learned, and then just put it right into practice,” she says.

Nailed it, Emma!

Click here to read the full BBC Article: “Smart headbands claim to make people calmer. Do they work?”