Could This New Eye-Tracking Device Become The Peloton For Brain Health?

  • A neurological health-tech company has released its first consumer-facing product drawing on eye-tracking technology to help users improve mental acuity from the comfort of their own home. 
  • The technology behind the handheld NeurolgnFit device is currently used in some of the best hospitals and research facilities in the US, including the Mayo Clinic, US Army Medical Centers and NASA. 
  • Its founder believes COVID-19 has emphasised the urgency that brain health is an unmet consumer need, saying, “We’re proud to be trailblazers of this wellness-tech niche”. 

TORONTO, Canada — A neurological health-tech company that has previously worked with NASA and the US Army is releasing its first consumer-facing product, which its founder believes could one day help it become a “Peloton for brain health”. 

NeurolignFit, from Neurolign Technologies, is a handheld device that draws on the latest innovations in eye-tracking technology so users can track, understand and improve their overall mental acuity from the comfort of their own home. 

Founded in 2019 and headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Neurolign is headed up by Founder, CEO and Chairman Eugene Melnyk, a veteran of the health-tech and healthcare startup ecosystem. 

“The brain, just like any other part of the human body, needs to be exercised and cared for, and with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic reinvigorating public dialogue around wellness, a product like NeurolignFit has never been more prescient,” Melnyk commented on the launch. 

“Until now, the research-backed benefits of eye-based neuro-functional evaluation have been out of reach for the public. By putting the power of this technology into an intuitive, gamified consumer device, Neurolign is hoping to change the way people think about and improve their brain health and wellness.” 

The NeurolignFit platform consists of a handheld device and mobile app, which together utilise clinical-grade eye-tracking technology to perform a series of rapid, non-invasive neurological assessments. 

The data from these tests is then run through an algorithm that creates an ongoing report of the user’s latest brain performance in three key areas – mental sharpness, focus, and movement – and offers a series of gamified eye-based exercises to train those three areas over time. 

Is eye-tracking technology new?
The technology underpinning NeurolignFit has been in development for over 30 years and is already implemented in a broad range of medical fields, helping detect over 200 diseases and medical conditions. 

Soon after its founding, Neurolign acquired Neuro Kinetics Inc., incorporating its technology and over 30 years of experience under the Neurolign banner. 

Previously its use has been confined to bulky and expensive devices only available in professional settings, but now Neurolign is bringing this high-potential brain health tech into the homes of consumers for the first time. 

Elaborating on the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had in accelerating the launch of NeurolignFit, Melnyk told Welltodo: “COVID-19 has also played a role in reinvigorating consumer discourse and investment in personal health and wellness. 

“Symptoms like brain fog and grogginess are both associated with COVID-19 – both the illness itself and the circumstances it has caused – which emphasises the urgency that brain health is an unmet consumer need and stresses the timeliness of our product.” 

While Neurolign is not the only eye-tracking company working in the field of neurological diagnosis and medical research, Melnyk said his company’s science is used in the best hospitals and research facilities in the US, including the Mayo Clinic, US Army Medical Centers, and NASA. 

Neurolign has also previously lent its technology to motorsport racing’s IndyCar Series. 

“Eye-tracking is becoming more prevalent, and various iterations of this technology have recently sprung up, typically in novel settings,” Melnyk continued. “These days, VR and digital gaming, advanced driver assistance, driver safety assessment, and even job recruitment studies have been using eye-tracking as a means to innovate.” 

The spectre of Theranos on consumer and investor confidence
NeurolignFit’s launch has coincided with the ongoing trial in the US of Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of rapid blood-testing company Theranos, for defrauding investors. 

Despite the potential of Theranos’ case to undermine consumer and investor confidence in the biohacking and health tracking space, Melnyk believes its impact has been limited, and in fact, has helped sharpen investor and consumer interest in the med-tech industry.

“Medtech investment is up this year, with the global medical devices industry expected to reach a valuation of $612.7B by 2025,” said Melnyk. “That is to say, while this trial is high profile, the overall impact is limited.” 

He continued: “What can be said about the impact of Theranos, is that it has made investors even more focused on strong due diligence on the part of those they invest in, placing greater emphasis on understanding the science behind a product – which is ultimately very important to the success of the med-tech and health tracking space.” 

Melnyk added that it was worth noting that the Theranos controversy was a case where the goals of the company mission were put in place before the science was ready to achieve them. 

“In contrast, one thing we really believe in is our science, and it was our confidence in this science that we have been researching for 30 years and has more than 60 research citations in peer-reviewed journals that then led us to look for consumer applications,” Melnyk said. 

The future’s bright for eye-tracking health
Rather than appealing to investors, Melnyk acknowledged the first challenge Neurolign has to overcome will be convincing consumers its device is worth their time and money. 

As with any new idea, it will rely on a behaviour change on the part of consumers for the product to really take off,” he said, adding that in the long-term, Neurolign’s biggest challenge will also be its greatest opportunity. 

“Simply put, where do we go from here? What is the next innovation in consumer brain health, and will we be able to find it before an unknown competitor beats us to the punch? 

“Rather than thinking of NeurolignFit as the end-point of a 30-year technology journey, we are confident that it is the first step on a journey all its own. As the sector grows, we’ll be eager to see how new competitors can catalyse innovation, but for the meantime, we’re proud to be trailblazers of this wellness-tech niche.” 

NeurolignFit can be purchased directly via the Neurolign website for $199. 

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