I thought a long time about whether or not to review NeoRhythm. My hesitation was based on the fact I hardly knew anything about how the technology worked. It’s not something that’s been adopted into the mainstream of sleep medicine and sleep researchers I quizzed were no wiser that I was. To be frank I was more than a little sceptical about the efficacy and utility of this new device.
But I decided to take the plunge, do some research, and as I dug deeper, looking into the background and history of ‘magnetic therapies’ I started to understand the context better – how and why a device like NeoRhythm could have a real, deserved place alongside all of the existing, perhaps more recognised therapies and treatments for sleep issues.
But even armed with my research and foreknowledge, NeoRhythm still became a tricky beast to assess. The device is silent, motionless and unless you have some kind of X-Men -like super sensory powers, the magnetic pulsed frequencies it emits are at such a low intensity you don’t feel a thing. Nothing. Zip. Which means, the chances of a placebo effect kicking in are extremely high.
So, what to do? Well, where I ended up at, was to just be honest and describe my overall experience with NeoRhythm, my estimation of the hardware product itself, and whether or not, despite the fact there’s no way to objectively measure what the headband is doing, try to assess whether I gained any benefits from this esoteric, novel wearable. Read on for my in-depth discoveries, opinions and overall assessment….
What is Neorhythm?
NeoRhythm is a gesture-controlled wearable that uses brainwave entrainment to to help you relax, focus, energize, meditate, soothe pain and sleep better. Developed in 2016 by Slovenian startup MDCN Technologies, Inc., NeoRhythm came to prominence via a successful IndieGogo campaign in 2020. Under the brand name OmniPEMF, NeoRhythm helps to synchronise your brain state by emitting electromagnetic fields at specific frequencies, target specific areas of the brain to achieve various wellness goals.
The headband feature 7 different programs; Deep Relaxation, Energy and Vitality, Enhance Mental Capacity, Improve Sleep, Pain Control, Theta Meditation and Meditation Calming and Synchronisation. Each of these programs helps entrain the brain to specific alpha, theta or gamma brain states according to your needs.
Under the hood, Neorhythm utiliazes a technique known as pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF), a non-invasive, FDA-approved technology used by doctors for decades. Neorhythm puts PEMF technology into an easy to use, gesture controlled wearable which can be worn at any time of the day.
Confusingly, because NeoRhythm specifically targets the brain, it’s also known as an rTMS (repetitive trans-cranial stimulation) device. rTMS is a practise used in medical psychiatry since the 1980s.
However, whilst clinical rTMS devices are large, bulky and require professionals to operate and supervise the equipment, NeoRhythm, (which uses the same principles but at a lower magnetic intensities) can be worn safely at home without supervision. Because of its five strategically positioned coils, NeoRhythm is also the first consumer wearable that can stimulate different areas in the brain.
|Dimensions||160 mm (6.3 in) x 170 mm (6.7 in) x 28 mm (1.1 in)|
|Battery Life||8 -10 hours depending on programs used|
|Maximum Magnetic Field Intensity||25 Gauss (2.5 mT)|
|Frequency Range||3-303.41 Hz|
NeoRhythm is available from $279 and comes with a 60 day money-back guarantee. (Save 10% with coupon SLEEPGADGETS)
How does NeoRhythm work?
NeoRhythm is designed to be simple to use, something that you can use every day at home – or even at work. It comes with an app and features gesture control – so you can start and stop the device with simple touch responses. Depending on the program you choose, recommended session lengths last from 20 minutes up to 8 hours (for an all night sleep program).
Because NeoRhythm contains 5 magnetic-field-producing inverted coils, it can target specific areas of the brain (prefrontal cortex, temporal lobes, cerebellum, parietal lobe, occipital lobe). This is achieved by adopting one of 4 headband positions. Alternatively if you choose the sleep program you can place NeoRhythm under the pillow at night instead.
When you’re ready to use NeoRhythm you simply tap on the device to wake it up, select your program from the app, and tap twice to start the session. NeoRhythm is non-invasive and uses low to medium intensity field strengths which actually puts it in the category of a low intensity rTMS device. However, Neorhythm is magnitudes less powerful than other rTMS devices such as those clinical settings to treat psychiatric disorders – which can be up to a thousand times more powerful.
For that reason, unless you’re extremely sensitive to magnetic fields, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll notice any physical effects or sensation when wearing the device. However, lest you’re wondering whether there’s actually anything happening at all in the device, NeoRhythm has been tested in two independent double-blind placebo controlled studies which confirm that the device does what is says it does. You can read the studies here and here.
History of ‘magnetic therapy’
Before we go any further, to understand what Neorhythm is all about, we have to dive a little into the history and science of its underlying technology. Yes…. this is the science bit. You can skip it if you like, but if you’re serious about getting the most out of a novel solution like NeoRhythm, then you really should take the time to get your head around the basic principles at least.
So, to start with, the concept of using magnetic fields as a means of therapy or healthcare is not something new – it goes back thousands of years. Accounts of lodestones – a naturally magnetized form of the mineral magnetite – appear in ancient texts across the world – from China, India, Egypt and classical Greece.
Broadly, physicians and healers in these times spoke of correcting ‘energy imbalances’ in the body, which don’t map onto modern Western paradigms of medicine, but are nevertheless connected to the central premise of a ‘magnetic therapy’ – that every cell in the body is driven and managed by minute electrical forces, and because magnetic fields can influence electrical fields, it follows intuitively that magnetic forces might influence biological changes in the body.
Although the therapeutic benefits of ‘static’ or permanent magnets are not widely supported today, the potentials of magnetic therapy took a leap forward in the 19th century when Michael Faraday discovered that by moving a magnet through a metal coil, you could induce an electrical current – aka electromagnetic induction. These findings went on to revolutionise the world, include the basis of our understanding of the universe in terms of huge electromagnetic fields.
Later Faraday, and Tesla’s discoveries also went on to inspire a new field of biomedical research investigating the use of ‘pulsed’ or moving magnetic fields to treat a dizzying range of conditions including arthritis, fatigue, immunodeficiency, infections, insomnia, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, sciatica, stress, nerve pain, wound healing and many more applications.
PEMF and rTMS explained
In the late 20th century, we started to see more research into a particular form of electromagnetic treatment called PEMF – a non-invasive treatment that’s been used in clinical applications for several decades now. Perhaps because the potential range of applications is so wide, and the body of research is hence rather scattered a, PEMF is mainly regarded as an adjunct therapy, rather than a cure for any particular condition.
The list of conditions that PEMF has been explored as being useful in treating are dizzying in their breadth. To name a few; pain, sleep management, depression, stress/anxiety, mental focus, recovery, multiple sclerosis and many more.
PEMF started to gain recognition after the FDA approved the treatment for stimulating bone growth in 1979. Other early adopters of PEMF were veterinarians, who uses PEMF therapy to heal bone fractures in animals. In fact, one of the most common applications today for PEMF therapy is in the equine trade, where various PEMF treatments exist to help minimising downtime due to injury or illness in horses.
If you apply PEMF therapy directly to the head, this is known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). rTMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses electromagnetic induction to stimulate specific areas of the brain by creating and changing the magnetic field. rTMS was also given FDA approval in 2008 to treat psychiatric disorders including depression.
In short PEMF devices range enormously in their scope, capabilities, functions and applications. Some devices emit very high strength fields and are designed specifically for use in professional clinical settings. Others, like NeoRhythm are designed as wellness devices for everyday use and carry a much lower range of risks and side effects. If you want to learn more about the specific science of NeoRhythm and its rTMS capabilities, here’s a very informative interview with Professor Igor Herman, the scientist responsible for the development and testing of the wearable.
Unboxing/ First Impressions
As with most expensive gadgets, NeoRhythm makes a good impression with the packaging and inside the box you will find the headband, a USB charging dock, micro-USB cable, a set of velcro adjustment strips, a tool for doing a hard reset, user manual, carry case and most intriguingly, a small test tube containing an intriguing metallic cube…. more about that later.
Overall, the makers have gone to good lengths to ensure the unboxing experience is as satisfactory as possible. Even the box is nicely decked out with instructive graphics detailing the technical specifications and various usage applications. First impressions count, so well done to OmniPEMF for meeting expectations on this front.
Design and Ergonomics
In terms of looks, OmniPEMF have decided to go for a strictly minimalist, slightly angular, stark white, futuristic aesthetic. So futuristic in fact, that if you want to, you can swan around the house doing a very good impression of Geordi La Forge from Star Trek Next Generation…. if that’s your thing…
So there are actually 6 different ways you can wear NeoRhythm (including under the pillow at night), and each of these targets a specific area of the brain, using different combinations of the 5 built in magnetic coils – two at each side and one at the rear of the headband. This multicoil design is a unique feature of NeoRhythm, offering the most extensive range of stimulation areas out of all the current PEMF wellness devices on the market today. The coils enable separate tuning and targeting of specific brain regions; prefrontal cortex, temporal lobes, cerebellum, parietal lobe, occipital lobe or the spinal cord (for pain relief)
So, depending on which program you choose, the coils will emit a dominant and supporting field frequency, targeted to a specific brain region, designed to optimize the entrainment process of your choice. You can see the specific alpha, beta, gamma frequencies, corresponding signal strength and target brain regions in the table below.
NeoRhythm Programs – frequencies and headband positions
|Program Name||Recommended Duration||Dominant Frequency||Accompanying Frequency||Headband position|
|Improve Sleep||20 mins before bed and/or all night||4 Hz (theta)/ 2.5mT||2.67 Hz (delta)/ 0.25 mT||Rear (occiput)/ under pillow|
|Pain Control||40 mins - twice/day||303.41 Hz (gamma)/ 2 mT||12.64 Hz (alpha)/ 0.25 mT||Top/ around neck (parietal/temporal lobes)|
|Enhance Mental Capacity||30-60 mins, 1-3x/day||33.71 Hz (beta)/ 2.5 mT||54 Hz (gamma) 0.25 mT||Towards forehead (frontoparietal lobes)|
|Theta Meditation||30-60 mins||4 Hz (theta)/ 2.5 mT||10.67 Hz (alpha)/ 0.5 mT||Above ears|
|Meditation Calming and Synchronisation||Duration of the meditation||9 Hz (alpha)||6 Hz (theta)||Above ears|
|Deep Relaxation||30-60 mins, 1-2x/day||10.12 Hz (alpha)/ 2.5 mT||3.375 Hz (delta)/ 0.25 mT||Rear (occiput)|
|Energy and Vitality||30-60 mins, 1-2x/day||40.5 Hz (gamma)/ 2.5 mT||54 Hz (gamma)/ 0.5 mT)||Towards forehead (prefrontal cortex)|
In terms of build quality, the headband, whilst undoubtably lightweight, feels solid and well engineered. Aesthetically, the minimalism works, but the headband feels distinctly utilitarian, rather than sexy. It’s debatable whether or not better looks would make this a better device. Until we reach an Elon Musk-like future where everyone has a brain implant, right now, anyone who wants to dabble in ‘neuro-technology’ is going to draw some strange looks whilst donning their devices.
As for materials, again they’re fine. NeoRhythm is cased in hard white plastic shell which covers the entire outer surface of the headband, whilst inside – the part that’s in contact with your head – there’s some softer materials, rubber and some type of smooth but grippy foam. This makes the headband nice and comfortable to wear, even for extended periods.
One thing I would have preferred instead of solid plastic is some softer materials on the exterior. It’s not a cheap device, and my worry, completely unfounded thought it may be, is that if I dropped this from a height, the plastic may shatter or crack. Simply adding some other elements, perhaps a few rubber strips, on the exterior would give a bit more assurance that the device might ‘bounce’, rather than smash if it hit the deck from high above. It’s a minor criticism, but maybe this can be addressed in a future version.
Buttons and interfaces
If you’re looking for NeoRhythm’s on/off button you’ll be looking for a while. In fact you won’t find a single switch or button on the headband at all. This is because the device is completely gesture-controlled – with a caveat…… Because whilst you don’t need to physically press anything on the headband, NeoRhythm is 100% dependent on the companion app to get started and to choose a program.
The gesture control works with a simple tap mechanism – once to wake the device up, and twice to initiate a program. You can also set a vibration alert to let you know a program has started and finished. Connection is automatic via Bluetooth although there’s an option to have Bluetooth running during your program or to have it running all the time.
Apart from the app, the only other indicator on the device is a single LED on the underside of the headband. The multicoloured light can indicate various statuses: low battery (red), charging (solid amber), connected (blinking amber), or running (blinking green).
Customizing the fit
So, onto the setup procedure and you’ll be pleased to know there isn’t a lot to do in this respect. First, you need to make sure the headband fits properly. The makers claim the device is designed to fit an average size (whatever that is), and should fit 90% of the population. If you’ve got a particularly huge head, then I guess you’re out of luck, because there’s no way to adjust the headband to be larger, apart from the slight flexibility of the plastic.
But if you find the headband is a little loose and slips around your head, then you can use the supplied adjustment pads to make a comfortable fit. These are simple adhesive pads which you fit on the inside of the headband. I was lucky in that I must have a pretty average sized head and didn’t need to do any adjustment, but if need be, there are various size pads to choose from – varying from 1.5mm to 6mm in thickness.
Once you’ve adjusted the headband to fit you comfortably, there’s not really any more hardware setup involved – just make sure the headband is charged – a full charge from zero battery life takes around 2.5 hours. The rest of the setup is installing the app and pairing your device with your phone. And this is pretty simple too – just search for and install the NeoRhythm App. I used the Android version, but there’s an iOS version too.
What no personalized data?
One aspect that’s quite refreshing about the NeoRhythm app is that there’s no need to create a user account, add your personal details etc etc. As far as I can tell, there’s no obvious data collection, which is highly unusual, but also very welcoming to see.
These days, the norm for pretty much every smart tech product is to link your device data to a personal profile, because….. well, the mantra is ‘machine learning’ but the reality is likely more that data is the new oil, and if you can collect it, why not.
Well, we’re of the opinion that data collection should be mandatory opt-in, rather than opt-out, so hats off to OmniPEMF for resisting the temptation to hoover up all of your data just for the sake of collecting it and potentially monetizing it down the line.
Anyways, I divert. Once the app is installed you’ll be given a quick walkthrough tour, and then you’ll be greeted by the welcome screen asking you to connect your headband. This is where the gesture control comes in. To connect, just tap once on the headband to ‘wake up’ the device – this will be indicated by a slow flashing green light. Once awake, simply press ‘Connect’ and the two devices are paired – which is indicated by a slowly flashing amber LED.
Once connected, you can then navigate to the ‘Predefined Programs’. Once you’ve chosen your program, then it’s time for another gesture control action – this time tapping twice on the headband, which acts as a kind of ‘Start/Stop’ command. When you’ve started the program you’ll see a timer pop up in the app, counting up to show the duration of your chosen program.
NeoRhythm App Options and Settings
To be perfectly honest, there isn’t a great deal more to the app than what I’ve described above. As I’ve said there’s no complicated user metrics dashboard, other than a log of your past sessions. There are no features for scheduling or notifications. No integrations with any third-party platforms, apps or other devices. I’m not saying this as a criticism, just an observation. Frankly, the app is quite basic, and in essence just functions as a way to choose different programs in the device. I can imagine further updates bringing more functionality to the app, but for now, the NeoRhythm app is quite a spartan affair.
That said, there are a few settings options worth mentioning. For instance you can switch on/off a ‘vibra’ alert which gently buzzes the headband at the start and end of each program. You can also completely disable Bluetooth when a program is running. This means zero EMF’s – apart from the obvious magnetic fields generated by NeoRhythm itself!
Custom program – design your own biohacking experiment
Perhaps the most interesting feature in the app is the ability to add your own custom program. This is an option only if you’re completely comfortable with using yourself as your own biohacking test subject. Because by creating your own program you’re delving into the world of self-experimentation. And although the types of field frequencies and strengths we’re dealing with in NeoRhythm are reasonably safe, if you want to start dabbling into the custom mode, then you’re taking a leap into the unknown.
There’s not a great deal more to be said about the app. The only other thing I haven’t mentioned is a readme page, with a useful description of each program, with durations, field frequencies, head positions etc. But that’s about it. It’s a simple app, but it does what it says.
So what is NeoRhythm like to use? Let’s break down the user experience a little bit.
This is quite an easy one. Basically NeoRhythm have done a pretty good job in terms of comfort and wearability. Me, and my average sized head, didn’t really encounter any problems wearing the device. It’s very lightweight and the only thing you feel is a very slight pressure on the sides of your head from the arms of the device.
The padding material has just the right amount of softness to be comfy, but enough firmness to maintain a good grip on your head. With regards to different head positions, I found that the headband remained pretty secure in all positions, the only exception being in the frontoparietal lobe position, just about your forehead. This was the only place where the headband moved around slightly, slipping forward if I was to tilt my head forward. But in general, in my experience, if you don’t move around too much, NeoRhythm is designed to stay pretty firmly planted on your head.
Gesture Recognition/using the app
I commend the designers for wanting to make the headband simple, ergonomic and button-free. The idea of gesture control is smart and instinctive. But in truth I can’t help but feel that the implementation has not quite reached the optimal point of user-friendliness.
To explain, the idea is NeoRhythm should be as quick and uncomplicated to use as possible. But in practise, firing up a program seems unnecessarily lengthy and to be honest, a little cumbersome.
To explain further: an ideal user-flow would be i) place the device on your head ii) tap to initiate the program…..
But in practice the actual process is i) tap device once to wake it up ii) confirm green activity LED iii) fire up the appp iv) click connect v) choose your program in app vi) tap device twice to initiate program…
Now admittedly, you can skip some of these steps if you’re using the same program as your previous session. And to be perfectly honest, it’s not really such a big deal jumping through all these mini hoops, it’s just that the gesture recognition feels as if it could have been implemented in a slicker way.
I mean, why not have a way to completely avoid having to use the app altogether?
Perhaps, and I’m guessing here, part of the answer to this question has nothing to do with ergonomics at all. Maybe this is more to do with the psychological gymnastics of using NeoRhythm…???
Placebo or not?
To explain what I mean, some context is needed. You see, perhaps out of all the hi-tech devices we’ve reviewed over the years here at Sleep Gadgets, NeoRhythm has had me scratching my head the most. I’m talking about trying to decide whether the device is having any effects whatsoever on my physio-psychological state, or whether the whole experience is a placebo effect.
Taking a step back, we have evidence, from high-quality clinical trials conducted in 2019, that indeed, NeoRhythm had a measurably significant effects across two of the device’s programs; Deep Relaxation and Increase Mental Capacity. We’ve placed the links to the studies above and you can also read summaries of the experiments in the NeoRhythmn whitepaper.
The test tube
Then, there’s also the test tube… Yes, this is an odd thing to find in the packaging of such a hi-tech device. But I kind of understand why they’ve done it. Because when you’re actually using and wearing NeoRhythm, there’s no physical sensation whatsoever. The pulsed frequencies are completely intangible.
Perhaps maybe if you’re a member of the X-Men family you’d be able to sense the magnetic field in the headband. But unlike birds and many other animals, humans have almost no abilities to detect weak magnetic fields – although new research suggests we may in fact have the ability, but don’t perceive it!
So enter the magic test tube….. This low-tech solution is really the only way to check your headband is pumping anything out, that is unless you have access to scientific laboratory equipment. And it’s a deceptively simple, but convincing way to determine what’s going on in when you switch NeoRhythm on.
The way it works is that inside the glass tube there’s a small metallic cube of undefined origin, which is obviously magnetic – you can test this with a fridge magnet at home.
Now, although NeoRhythm’s pulses are too weak to generate any visible movement in the cube, the headband’s pulses do cause the magnet to vibrate. And although you can’t see these vibrations, they can be perceived in the form of sound waves, when the metal cube rattles against the interior of the glass tube.
So to use the test tube – aka the ‘Magnetic Field and Frequency Tester’ – simple hold the metal cap of the test tube to your ear, and with a NeoRhythm program activated, move the headband towards the test tube. Lo and behold you do actually hear the resultant sound vibrations. The Sleep program with its 3Hz (ie 3 cycles per second) can be detected as a rapid tapping noise; the Enhance Mental Capacity program, with its higher gamma frequencies sounds more like a buzzing tone.
So, that’s the only function of the test tube. To be able to have some kind of physical, real world sensory perception of the magnetic fields inside the headband. It’s basically a way to demonstrate to doubters and naysayers that the device isn’t just an inanimate piece of plastic, and there is something really going on inside.
The subjective experience
So we’ve established that scientifically NeoRhythm has been proven to work, and we’ve used the test tube to actually hear the vibrations caused by the magnetic pulses. But what does it actually feel like to use?
Interestingly, but not altogether unsurprisingly, online reviews of NeoRhythm have been mixed. Some claim it had no noticeable effect whatsoever. Others purported having great success with the device.
The reason I’m unsurprised about this mixed reception is that NeoRhythm has been designed to entrain such a varying range of brain states, it makes sense that different individuals are going to respond differently, according to their biology, their needs, their sensitivities. And indeed this was the case for me.
To cut to the chase, I didn’t find that the Sleep program had any noticeable subjective effect on my sleep quality, or duration. But maybe that’s because I’m a pretty good sleeper anyway. You see, despite me having reviewed so many hi-tech sleep products over the years, I’m actually probably a really bad test subject – in the sense that I don’t really have any underlying sleep pathologies. I don’t have insomnia. I don’t have sleep apnea. Just the normal, regular occassional restless night if I have any particular pressing anxieties going on at the time.
So perhaps, my default brain state during sleep has a level of stability that it doesn’t respond, or doesn’t need the additional help of an external entrainment device such as NeoRhythm? Who knows? It’s really quite impossible to tell at this point in time.
However, where I did find success is with the Enhance Mental Capacity program – designed to increase focus, help you think more clearly and reduce ‘brain fog’. As someone who perpetually tries to cram too much into too little time, I’m always multi-tasking, 50 Chrome tabs open, to-do lists stuck all over my monitor, and at the same time trying to juggle the domestic bliss of home-working, but having to cook, clean and be a dad at the same time.
These conditions don’t exactly lend themselves to sitting down and writing long-form pieces like this, which need unbroken spells of concentration and focus. However….. somehow, NeoRhythm seemed to make a difference when I sat at my desk, beaming the headband’s dominant beta, and accompanying gamma frequencies into my brain.
I just seemed to be able to sit longer, get more words on the page, felt less distracted and less tempted to continually task switch. Basically I was getting more done, when I wore the headband.
Interestingly, this is one of the programs that was tested in the two double-blind placebo trials, so in that sense, my subjective experience maps onto the objective findings in the study. But of course, without undergoing a clinical trial myself, there’s no truly objective way to say the headband worked to achieve its goal, or whether my success was a result of placebo.
Reviewing consumer sleep technology is a task full of compromises and workarounds. The main issue is that sleep, despite us having a lot of cool tech around these days to measure and track, is, at the end of the day, still also a largely subjective experience.
You can feel great in the morning, despite your sleep tracker insisting you had a terrible night. And conversely, you can feel terrible after getting the most solid night’s sleep ever.
So, to be an honest reviewer – without the resources of a sleep lab or peer-review experimental protocols – all I can do is tell you my opinions, and then report my subjective experience back. I can’t provide the evidence to say that anything works. Only that it worked, or didn’t work for me.
And now…. drum roll….. did I like NeoRhythm? Did it work for me?
Well, yes I like NeoRhythm. It’s a little bit quirky. The design is simple and slick, but it’s not trying to be a cool. Or a smart IoT device that integrates with every single other piece of tech in your house. It just does one thing. And I like that. Comfort, battery life are good too.
And whilst I didn’t notice NeoRhythm having any noticeable subjective effect on my sleep, it did appear to help me focus and concentrate better at work.
Perhaps the biggest criticism is the slightly disappointing integration of the hardware and the software. It seems that all of the tech is on-board the headband itself, and that the app is merely a way to wirelessly select and initiate different programs. I really wish they had taken a step further, and made the device completely autonomous, so you wouldn’t have to use the app at all.
So in summary, NeoRhythm is a super-interesting, unique piece of tech. There’s nothing like it on the market. But because of its esoteric-ness (is that a word?) it’s also really difficult to know whether its rTMS capabilities will work for you.
As always, our mantra at Sleep Gadgets is that with all this cutting edge tech, nothing is 100% iron-clad guaranteed to help fix your sleep. Not even the best, clinically proven solutions. But if you think a particular technique or technology might be a good fit for your sleep issue, then by all means try it out – but only if there’s a returns policy if it doesn’t work out for you.
Our verdict – NeoRhythm is a fascinating, promising new innovation that may suit your needs if all other sleep solutions have failed.Exclusive: Save 10% on NeoRhythmUse coupon SLEEPGADGETS