The Foc.us gaming headset, designed to shock your brain with electrodes, has received FCC certification but still lacks that all-important FDA approval.

Claiming to help neurons fire faster, the headset is supposed to help gamers "overclock" their brains by passing an electrical current through the prefrontal cortex.

"Excite your prefrontal cortex and get the edge in online gaming," says the Foc.us website.

Transcranial direct-current stimulation, as the practice is called, has been used to treat patients with depression and brain injuries.

Foc.us is worn on the head for five to 10 minutes, though it is unclear how long the effects last. Some early reviews with the prototype suggest there are lingering effects, even after removing the headset.

Engadget's Nicole Lee said she experienced a burning and tingling sensation with Foc.us.

Meanwhile, Megan Geuss at Ars Technica reported seeing spots.

Foc.us maintains that the headset meets required regulatory standards. Yet without an FDA approval, it likely faces roadblocks.

Foc.us is preparing to ship this month for $279.

Foc.us is preparing to ship this month for $279.

Foc.us is preparing to ship this month for $279.

Would You Shock Your Brain To Improve Your Gaming High Score?

Foc.us is a dubious headset that uses electrodes to stimulate neurons, which its makers claim can improve gaming abilities.

The Foc.us gaming headset, designed to shock your brain with electrodes--anything to improve a high score, right?--has received FCC certification but still lacks that all-important FDA approval.

Claiming to help neurons fire faster, the headset is supposed to help gamers "overclock" their brains by passing an electrical current through the prefrontal cortex. "Excite your prefrontal cortex and get the edge in online gaming," says the Foc.us website. Transcranial direct-current stimulation, as the practice is called, has been used to treat patients with depression and brain injuries. Some potential use cases for the technology include helping students learn a new language or training drone controllers to better guide unmanned autonomous aircrafts.

Foc.us is worn on the head for five to 10 minutes, though it is unclear how long the effects last. Some early reviews with the prototype suggest there are lingering effects, even after removing the headset.

Engadget's Nicole Lee said she experienced a burning and tingling sensation with Foc.us:

We strapped the headset on for ourselves at a recent event, and we found it to be a weird experience. There was a strange, almost burning, sensation on the right part of our forehead, while the rest merely tingled. Oxley told us that it was normal for some people to feel it more on one side than the other, and that tDCS does take some getting used to. After about eight minutes, the tingling sensation remained even after we removed the headset. We didn't really feel our powers of concentration improve that much afterward, but it's hard to say after such a limited time.

Meanwhile, Megan Geuss at Ars Technica reported seeing spots:

It fit comfortably and the headset has a crescendo start, so it wasn’t jolting (pun intended) when the headset turned on. Unfortunately, Foc.us didn’t have a gaming rig set up at demo day, so I can’t tell you whether it actually improves performance. I can say that I started feeling a very noticeable but somewhat pleasant shock in the rear left of my brain in addition to a light buzzy feeling all over my head. I also started seeing white spots in my peripheral vision, especially in my upper right view. If you are epileptic, do not use this headset.

Foc.us maintains that the headset meets required regulatory standards. Yet without an FDA approval, it likely faces roadblocks, if not because some people might be wary of shocking their brains to improve their gaming abilities (how much are bragging rights worth, exactly?), then because wearers can look as ridiculous as the models above. Still, Foc.us is preparing to ship this month for $279.

[Images: Foc.us]

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3 Comments

  • Markus Tschann

    you should know about the background of tdcs - it's therapeutic, aimed at sufferers of depression, insomnia etc. (ok, it does say so in the article)

  • Jamie MacDonald

    Gaming high score? Come on guys, I don't think they're aiming at Pacman here.