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A 'brain charger': The ultimate PDA accessory?

For those who said nothing new would be unveiled at Comdex, South Korean start-up DreamFree counters with the Peeg, a peripheral for PDAs that is said to stimulate brain activity.

Tech Industry
For those cynics who said nothing new would be unveiled at Comdex, South Korean start-up DreamFree counters with the Peeg, a peripheral for PDAs that is said to stimulate brain activity.

Peeg, short for "personal electroencephalogram," is designed to stimulate different types of brain waves by sending positive waves to the wearer, said Joonon Moon, a director in the planning department at url="www.dreamfree.com">Seoul-based DreamFree. Company literature says Peeg is the "world's best mobile digital brain charger."

The Peeg consists of a software application for Microsoft Pocket PC, headphones and a set of silver eyeglasses that look like the sort of thing triathletes wear. The lenses are made of opaque plastic.

When the PDA application is set on "concentration," rhythmic pinging sounds are heard in the earphones while lights flash off and on inside the glasses. Users close their eyes, so they only faintly perceive the light pulses. The frequency of the pings and the lights are meant to be synchronized so that they induce brain waves of the same frequency. By altering brain wave frequencies, Peeg can alter moods, Moon said.

"It changes your brain waves and makes you feel better," he said.

There are also settings to improve memorization and induce relaxation, sleep, vitality and jet-lag recovery. Users can wear it as long as they want, but DreamFree says that five to 10 minutes of wearing the Peeg will induce beneficial brain waves.

While most attendees at the Comdex tech trade show viewed the demonstrations with some skepticism, some who tried it said they enjoyed it. It was one of the more crowded booths on the relatively sparse show floor.

"It makes these little flying-saucery sounds," said Neil Rubenking, contributing technical editor for PC Magazine. "I guess I sort of liked it.

"It is more interesting than selling cables," he added.

The experience in some ways is similar to taking a nap while playing a Kraftwerk album. At first the sounds and light are jarring, but a pleasant massage effect begins to creep over you in about a minute. Even with closed eyes, one can sense the pattern of the light pulses. Sometimes the pulsing comes from the side of the glasses, while at other times it comes from the top and bottom. The pulsing tone is largely monotonic, but seems to change slightly.

The company was founded by members of Mensa Korea (members have a 158 IQ or higher) and most are software or hardware engineers, Moon said. Hyoung Sik Yoon is the chief executive officer.

DreamFree has brought samples to the country and hopes to begin selling the device in the United States this year, he said, although the company will likely need FDA approval. DreamFree has been selling the device for three years in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China and Vietnam. The device sells for $300.

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