Back at the CE Week Lineshows in June, I stumbled across a booth containing what looked like whited-out lab goggles. I wasn’t expecting to find a complex product underneath, but when I tried on a pair of the PSiO Audio Visual Stimulation (AVS) glasses, I was in for a big surprise. Synchronizing music with a full-spectrum light show right in front of your eyes, the PSiO features a variety of programs designed to help you relax, re-energize, or reduce stress with programs that target and stimulate your brain.
Thoroughly Modern Music
I have to admit, the first thing I thought when picking up the PSiO pamphlet was “psychedelic,” followed quickly by “new age.” I agreed to try the demo program, however, and was blown away by a driving, pulsating euro-pop bass line combined with operatic vocals and a brilliant array of light that swept and swirled across my field of vision. Not at all the hippy guitar and crystals I was expecting, the Carmenita program I listened to felt more like the music and light show one would find in an Ibiza club rather than the ambience of an ashram.
I’d been on my feet all day walking the show floor, carrying a messenger bag replete with MacBook, review samples, and snacks. Though the end of the day was near I was still feeling beat, but after a few minutes with the PSiO glasses on I felt energized and ready to do another lap around the show floor! The combination of noise isolating headphones and the complete coverage provided by the goggles blocked the bustle and visual distractions of the show floor, providing a feeling of peaceful isolation. Meanwhile, the program’s high energy and fast moving visual stimulation kicked my brain into high gear.
How Does it do That?
The PSiO is basically a pair of goggles with an onboard MP3 player on the right earpiece. There are dual mono-out audio jacks on either side for the included earbuds, or you can use your own headphones via the stereo jack on the right earpiece. The goggles themselves cover your eyes and are ringed by an array of LEDs, which pulsate and change color in time to music played back by the MP3 player. The combination of light and music is called a program, and each is designed to support some type of goal like meditation. There are more than 10 programs included, ranging from energizing beats to calming sleep programs, and you can buy more at PSiOPlanet designed to help with anything from memory training to weight loss.
The PSiO is the brainchild of a European PhD by the name of Stéphane Krsmanovic, who has researched the effects of audiovisual stimulation on brain activity. The exact details will likely be very had for anybody who’s not a neuroscientist to follow (myself included), but the basic idea is that specific brain activity can be enhanced or induced through application of specific colors, sounds, or a combination of both. The PSiO programs are designed to play sounds and display light colors that correspond to specific desired responses; my Carmenita program was designed for recharging and energy, so there was energetic bass and a full spectrum of vibrant colors. Sleep programs would obviously combine less active audio and soothing colors like warm reds.
PSiO is the product of PSYCHOMED R&D, and is just making its way to the US via PSiO USA. The glasses aim to help with a variety of ailments or disorders where brain stimulation can help, like stress relief, sleep/relaxation, and memory training, though you obviously should use them in conjunction with proper medical advice for serious conditions. They’re not cheap at $399.99, but I could personally see using these frequently to recharge after a stressful day or to help focus my energy on a specific task when distractions or multitasking just get out of hand.
You can buy your own PSiO directly from their online store, and the company is participating in the Walmart Get on the Shelf campaign, so you could see it in the blue box stores soon. Check out this product demo video for an idea of how they work …
… but the actual experience is much more immersive when that pulsating light show is the only thing you can see.