This Brain-Zapping Headband Didn't Make Me Happy

Zap your troubles away

Key Takeaways

  • The $299 Hapbee is a new device that claims to let you control your emotions.
  • The headband beams magnetic fields to your brain, the manufacturer says. 
  • I tried the Hapbee and it was hard to tell if it did anything at all.
The Hapbee headband.
Hapbee Technologies

A simple headband that lets you control your emotions with the tap of an app seems too good to be true. So, let’s just say I approached the Hapbee, a new $299 gadget (not including a $19 monthly fee) that claims to put "users into the driver's seat and allows them to control how they feel," with a certain amount of skepticism. 

Thousands of years of philosophy, medicine, and therapy have been aimed at the emotional problems that the Hapbee claims to solve. Mostly, they’ve fallen short.

Philosophy? Stoicism had its day with the Greeks. Medicine? There are some excellent pills out there, but they don’t work for everyone, and most have side effects. Therapists can be wonderful, but they are pricey and time-consuming.

Why not just tap an app to zap your problems away? That seems to be the very 2020-approach behind the Hapbee, which the company wants you to pronounce as "happy." 

Is There Really Science? 

There’s science behind the Hapbee, the company claims. There’s a long explanation of this science on the company’s website. Still, it seems to boil down to the idea that the Hapbee can control your emotions by beaming magnetic fields into your brain.

Just how safe is it to zap your brain with magnetic fields, I wondered as I charged up the slim, black plastic gizmo. The company provides carefully worded reassurances that liken the product’s safety to the same standards as "medical-grade cancer treatment."

A composite image of different people using the Hapbee headband.
Hapbee Technologies

It also states that "our initial testing for long-term exposure in animals showed that mice have no notable negative behavioral responses or weight fluctuations to 15 days of continuous Hapbee signal stimulation."

"If mice can withstand these magnetic fields, why not me," I thought. So, I placed the Hapbee on my head and synced it via Bluetooth to an iPhone app that I downloaded (it’s also available for Android). The setup was a quick and easy process. 

Signals Control Your Mood, Maybe

The Hapbee app comes with six "signals," as the company calls them, which are each designed to induce a different state of mind. They are: Calm, Sleepy, Focus, Happy, Relax, and Alert. All you have to do is click the play button on one of the icons on the app and the headset does the rest.

I decided that after the horrible news that had hijacked 2020, what I really needed was to feel "happy." I tried that setting for a while and didn’t really feel anything. So, I clicked the "sleepy" icon and waited expectantly. Nothing seemed to happen.

I read a bit more of the included instruction manual and discovered that the Hapbee can take quite a few sessions to work. 

So, while I waited, I read about the users profiled on the company website. "Monsour Hamade of Paris, France, had reached the limit of what he was able to handle," reads one blog post.

"He was super stressed with work responsibilities and projects, overwhelmed by how his personal relationships were spiraling, and fresh out of energy for life. He realized he was in such a nervous state that he couldn’t even feel his body." 

"Thousands of years of philosophy, medicine, and therapy have been aimed at the emotional problems that the Hapbee claims to solve. Mostly, they’ve fallen short."

I certainly could relate to these work issues. Also, like me, Hamade didn’t see immediate results. "At first, I was thinking about sending it back, but now I’m not considering that because it’s working really well," he said, according to the company. "It’s a substantial investment for a lot of people, but that’s what you would pay for a yearly gym subscription here in France."

It apparently turned out well for Hamade. After using the Hapbee for a while, "he thinks it gives him an unfair advantage over his co-workers because he’s completely able to focus for the entire duration of two- or three-hour virtual meetings," the company said.

By the time I had finished reading through all the positive testimonials on the website and tried to make sense of the complex scientific evidence behind the gadget, I was beginning to feel...something. Sleepy! Yes, I was feeling sleepy. Perhaps, the Hapbee was working after all.

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