New Smart Headband May Help Fight Depression

By David Konow 06/26/17

The Mindd smart headband is already being used in a dozen South Korean hospitals. 

Man in suit pointing to a 3d rendering of a human brain

In the last several years, there have been a lot of advances in portable technology to help people combat anxiety and depression. Now, smart headbands may be a new weapon in the battle against depression.

As Geek reports, this technology has been developed by Ybrain, a startup located in Seoul, South Korea. So far they have raised $3.5 million in funds to develop mental health technology.

This smart headband is called the Mindd, and it creates what’s known as transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS, which stimulates electricity in the brain’s frontal lobes. A report on Spectrum says that a tDCS system can run on a 9-volt battery, and it sends several milliamps of current to someone’s brain.

A doctor can program how many milliamps a patient can download from the Mindd headband, and the device won’t allow the patient to send any more currents to their brains than what is prescribed.

Right now the Mindd is being used in a dozen hospitals in South Korea, and Ybrain is hoping to have it available in 150 more hospitals by the end of the year. One researcher involved in the project says, “Our broader goal is to help anyone with depression easily receive treatment from home, and to eventually raise depression treatment rates around the world.”

And as Ybrain’s CEO, Lee Ki-won, tells the Korea Herald, “Countless people are suffering from depression every day, yet few seek medical treatment. With our device, we hope to contribute to solving this problem by offering patients the option to treat depression from the comfort of their home.” (In fact, Lee told Spectrum that this device was specifically designed for home use.)

Hoping to expand Mindd’s global reach, Ybrain is also working in conjunction with Harvard Medical School—with 500 people participating in a clinical study to try out the Mindd headband. CNET reports that Ybrain hopes to get Mindd headbands onto the U.S. market by 2019.

The development of this technology has a strong resonance in South Korea, which reportedly has the fourth highest suicide rate in the world. According to statistics, close to 38 people commit suicide every day there, which is reportedly a third of daily suicides in America.

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.