We had a look at the Valkee earlier on the blog. I just bring it up again because it’s interesting that TechCrunch is covering it and pointing out its ‘successful startup’ aspect. I can’t imagine a DIY version of this could cost more than a few dollars.
“I told him you don’t need to your light your house. You need to light your brain,” Nissila said. The ear canal was the most natural and obvious way to shine light onto the surface of the brain. Within weeks, they had a prototype.
Called The Valkee, the device looks like an MP3 player with a set of fancy headphones attached to it. The earbuds actually have a pair of lights attached to them that run for 12-minute sessions at a time. The idea is that by shining light into sensitive areas of the brain, it will stimulate a special OPN3 protein in parts of the brain that help regulate serotonin, melatonin and dopamine production.
They’re initially marketing it to people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but they’re planning to expand their consumer base to people who need to fight off jet lag.
“If I stop using it for one week, I start eating more and it becomes very difficult to wake up in the morning,” said Timo Ahopelto, who was CEO of the company before leaving to join early-stage Finnish VC fund Lifeline Ventures, which also holds a stake in Valkee. I’ve used it, and I can’t tell if there is any effect yet beyond making my ears feel warm in the morning. But I’m also Californian, so I’m not even really sure I suffer from seasonal affective disorder because we don’t really have seasons.