A new company that's betting there's a big market out there for folks who'd like to, say, enjoy a runner's high without having to, well, run are about to unleash a new device that could very well induce a dopamine high. Florida-based Nervana, a wearable tech company run by nurses, doctors, and engineers, is about to take pre-orders for its $299 electric headphones with an anticipated spring delivery, reports Discovery. But the science is still out: While Nervana reports that its proprietary earbud tech sends electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve by way of the ear canal to stimulate feel-good hormones like dopamine, the company calls it a "lifestyle and wellness" device instead of a medical device, thereby sidestepping rigorous scientific inquiry, FDA approval, and the like.
Anecdotally, early reviews are somewhat divided. The folks who tried the device out for Futurism at the Consumer Electronics Show this week had only praise; the writer notes that dopamine has "special effects" for women and goes so far as to confess, "Honestly if I had one of these sets I'd be doing this every day." Engadget writer Daniel Cooper, meanwhile, describes his 15 minutes with the headphones differently, having felt only a "mild sense of elation that lasted until I shut down the device, and for the next five minutes, I was a little spaced out." He notes the elation may have simply been due to the fact that he'd been given momentary respite from the loud din of a trade show. (Check out other notable gizmos at this year's CES.)