The finnish earlight maker Valkee Ltd is putting all-in on the american market after plunging sales in Europe. Its product, the premium-priced placebo HumanCharger, is sold with wonder claims online by Walmart and others:
- Keep in sync, all the time: regular exposure to light helps maintain the rhythm of our natural body clock, so with HumanCharger you always feel “in sync”
- Better sleep, better health: HumanCharger reduces the need for excess sleep and reduces food cravings associated with jetlag, tiredness and low energy levels
At the same time, the second independent study about the device’s effects (or the lack thereof) is published. The result … is the same as in all other placebo-controlled tests.
It is concluded that transcranial bright light, at times where conventional light therapy has phase-advancing properties, did not influence any sleep parameters differently than placebo.
This is by no means surprising, as the first independent trial, published in November 2013, came to similar conclusions with a somewhat different methodology. Valkee’s HumanCharger has no effects on circadian rhythms. The new independent study is from the University of Bergen, Norway. With 50 participants, it was adequately powered to detect any effects consistent with Valkee claims.
The company has admitted, that their earlight doesn’t have any physiological effect comparable to standard light therapy. Their own data also show, that it does not influence Melatonin or Cortisol like real light therapy. Now we know, it doesn’t improve or at least change sleep in any way.
The HumanCharger does not influence the biological clock.
No “better sleep. better health – sync with the sun”. It’s all made up.
Ironically, Valkee Ltd is just touring the US with exactly these false claims. The company has been presenting on the Consumer Electronics Show CES2016 from Jan 6-9 in Las Vegas. It would be interesting to see the reactions of any resellers, when they realize that the HumanCharger again is scientifically demonstrated to be humbug.
Update 1: I got the study pdf. Cool, that was fast! Big thanks to J. – and to all the other nice readers whose support I am experiencing regularly.
Update 2: According to the small print in the full text, Valkee Ltd paid 12.000 Euros for this trial. That’s more than for the ice hockey trial a few years ago. But they did not get full control over the results and the publishing. Literally a bad investment. (16.1.2016)