For The Golden State Warriors
, being connected to Silicon Valley has its perks.
Since becoming co-owned by venture capitalist Joe Lacob in 2010, the team has tested its share of performance-enhancing technologies, like jet lag-reducing sleep masks and monitors that measure the pressure placed on players’ joints. The franchise’s minor league team tests the gadgets first and the best ones are promoted to the majors. Recently, a pair of electricity-transmitting headphones have made the cut, according to The New Yorker.
The wearable tech, Halo Sport by Halo Neurosciences, uses something called tDCS — transcranial direct current stimulation — to transmit electric currents to the brain. Rows of foam spikes snap in above each earpiece and act as electrodes that speed up the neurons in the wearer’s motor cortex — the area of the brain where muscle action is established.
Players wear the headphones before their training sessions. The electric currents are meant to improve the endurance and synchronisation of muscles. Halo claims its headphones maximise athletic training sessions and make players better at motor-based skills at a faster rate.
Halo Neurosciences, which was founded in 2013 by Daniel Chaeo and Brett Wingeier in 2013, brands itself as a neurotechnology company for elite athletes. The co-founders got their start developing a technology called NeuroPace to treat epilepsy. Now, venture capitalists like Andreessen Horowitz , SoftTech, Lux Capital, and Xfund back their latest company.
While the record-breaking Warriors may seem a testament to the effectiveness of Halo’s technology, sceptics say there is no evidence that tDCS has a positive effect on the brain’s cognition.
Earlier this year, researchers at a conference for the Cognitive Neuroscience Society found that 90 per cent of the electrodes transmitted in tDCS failed to reach a cadaver’s brain. Neuroscientist Vincent Walsh of University College London told Science magazine that tDCS is “a sea of bullshit and bad science — and I say that as someone who has contributed some of the papers that have put gas in the tDCS tank.”
Walsh believes the field needs to be put under more scrutiny, but tech-obsessed teams like the Warriors are enjoying the mind-altering tech as-is, even if it is just a placebo effect.
Halo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Here’s what the headphones look like, as modelled by Warriors forward James Michael McAdoo:
— James Michael McAdoo (@jamesmcadoo) March 16, 2016