Although things haven’t always been easy, recent accolades indicate that there’s light at the end of the tunnel for HumanCharger—and quite a lot of it, too.
Earlier this year, the company was listed by the renowned global brand consultancy Interbrand as one of the world’s “breakthrough brands of the year’’.
Aki Backman, the CEO of HumanCharger, is audibly chuffed: “It’s an amazing honour to be included in the ‘health in your hands’ category.”
The world’s first portable bright light therapy device hails from Oulu, a city around 200 kilometres south of the boundary of the northern winter solstice. It’s no coincidence that HumanCharger was invented in a place where, mid-winter, you only need one hand to count the number of hours of daylight.
The gadget, smaller than an iPhone 5, hosts earplugs which beam calibrated UV-free white light through the ear canals. It’s meant to be used in 12-minute ‘doses’, and around 90 per cent of users find that the product works for them.
The customer is always right
But there have been darker times for the young company, too. In 2012 HumanCharger found themselves scrutinised by the Finnish press, with the public questioning the scientific basis for the product. It’s a difficult subject, but Backman emphasises the increasing body of evidence supporting the gadget’s efficacy.
“There’s no doubt we have enough scientific evidence on Transcranial Bright Light (TBL) to prove the efficacy of HumanCharger,” he states.
Further consolation came in 2015 when HumanCharger passed TÜV SÜD’s certification processes, a German body for medical device regulation.
Regulatory signals and growing international sales have eased the sting of early criticisms at home, but what’s truly kept the company going has been its customer base.
“We get positive feedback almost daily which convinces us it’s worth persisting with this product,” tells Backman.
Travelling light across the Atlantic
Only around 10 per cent of HumanChargers are sold in Finland, where they’re manufactured. Two years ago the product started getting noticed by the biohackers in the US, who formed the first movers for HumanCharger across the Atlantic.
Since then, the product has been classified as a low risk general wellness device by the FDA.
What has been particularly thrilling about the US market is the level of due diligence done by individuals.
“Science is all about debate, and we want our keenest consumers to take part in their own way by exercising due diligence,” Backman elaborates. “Read all the papers available, get the full picture, and try the product for yourself! We’ve always had a two-week full refund policy.”
When it comes to being an advocate for the product, Backman walks the walk: “If I were to ever accidentally leave my HumanCharger at home when travelling to the US, I’d be devastated!”