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Megan Geuss


The foc.us headset.

Ars Technica

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Earlier this week, Ars showed up at a demo day for the painful-to-read HAXLR8R (pronounced hack-celerator), a startup accelerator program that takes ten teams of entrepreneurs, gives them $25,000, and flies them between San Francisco and Shenzhen to work on a hardware-based product of their design.

Most of the products were still in progress, so many teams spent demo day courting VC funders or imploring the crowd to visit their Kickstarter campaign. But Foc.us, a company founded by mechanical engineers Michael Oxley and Martin Skinner, actually had its product launch that day. Its Foc.us headset is a device that is meant to shock your brain with electricity—and make you a better gamer because of it.

The headset is a red or black band that goes around the back of your head, with four disks that are placed on your forehead, just above your eyebrows. The disks contain electrodes beneath small circular sponges soaked in saline solution. When the headset turns on (via a physical button in the back or a companion iOS app), you get a shock to the prefrontal cortex that can range from 0.8 to 2.0 mA. For context, a hearing aid usually runs on about 0.7 mA—but you’re not directing that electricity into your head.

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In today’s Pictures in the News, Israeli soldiers secure the areas near the sites of several attacks in southern Israel; internally displaced children are at a settlement camp in Mogadishu, Somalia; the aerobatic team “Falcons of Russia” performs outside Moscow; and competitors are nearly a blur as they paddle in the 39th Flatwater Kayaking and Canoeing World Championships in Hungary. These are just a sampling.

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Phil Torrone's written a call-to-arms for geeks and makers to learn to speak and read Chinese. I'm not sure I'm confident in his premise that the Chinese economic revolution will continue to produce strong returns and thus increase Chinese economic and technical dominance to the point where this is a must-have for anyone who cares about technology, but you don't have to accept this to believe that knowing Chinese is an enormous asset to anyone trying to make sense of the world (and especially the world of manufacturing and technology) today.

Phil's written up a bunch of tips for approaching Chinese language instruction, which is an admittedly daunting prospect for a lot of westerners, with its trifecta of unfamiliar tones, non-Roman script, and absence of Latinate/Germanic cognates.


Fast forward almost a decade, and I'm living in NYC and talking, reading, or emailing with someone in China. If you make anything, eventually you'll find that there isn't a supply chain that beats what China has; while a lot of people will claim goods are made in China only because of lower costs, that's not 100% true. The supply chain of components to assembly are almost impossible to find elsewhere. If you look at once-booming industrial cities in the USA, you'll see a lot of the work, from parts to assembly, happened in big chunks of locations -- this is efficient and allows manufacturing to flourish...

You're going to see and hear about more and more open source hardware and maker businesses visiting China, and we'll likely even see and hear some familiar faces in the maker community spending extended time living/working in China. Makers are smart, nimble, and efficient. Being on-site and on the assembly line is usually how we think; we don't mind getting our hands dirty and participating in all parts of the process. It's only going to make sense that more and more of the most prolific makers will consider learning a new language the more time they spend in China.

Why Every Maker Should Learn Chinese

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