| Style over substance|
The Power Balance bracelet is another in a long line of science woo scams. In late 2010 and early 2011, they received significant amounts of media coverage due to players wearing the bands during the Ashes cricket.
According to their web site,
“”POWER BALANCE’S Mylar Holographic Disk (the same substance used to keep static electricity from damaging electrical components) has been imbedded with an electrical frequency that restores your body’s electrical balance, promoting a free exchange of positive and negative ions and align your body’s energy pathways.
The benefits, again from their web site are:
“”clear: faster synaptic response (brain function), enhanced muscle response (in both fast and slow twitch tissues), increased stamina (better oxygen uptake and recovery), more flexibility (faster recovery) and vastly improved gravitational balance.
Although there is a noticeable lack of supporting evidence of any kind, let alone peer-reviewed papers, they hark to the mystical east (where else):
“”Eastern medicine tapped this concept thousands of years ago when health practitioners researched, mapped and developed treatments based on the body’s natural energy pathways. Disciplines such as acupuncture, acupressure and Reiki therapy often produce phenomenal results because of these fundamental biophysical principals.
On opening their web site (UK version), the first name you see is Rubens Barichello. For a device that relies strongly on testimonials, though, there are very few actually present; the Barichello bit is a claim that he has been seen wearing a bracelet, so not much of a testimonial there.
Bearing in mind that it's a rubber band with a piece of "hologram" foil embedded, they come in at a very reasonable £25 for the UK version and $60 for the US version. Whether they're working from a very old exchange rate or they reckon 'murkins are easier to part from their cash is debatable.
Power Balance LLC has apparently acquired the naming rights for the "Arco Arena" in Sacramento:
"… a credible source told Sactown Royalty that the Kings have agreed in principle to a five-year deal with Power Balance LLC to rename the arena the Power Balance Pavilion. This is not a joke."
The former sponsors were paying an estimated $700,000 per year.
A 2010 investigation carried out by University of Wales Institute Cardiff at the request of the BBC confirmed that there was no difference between wearing the bracelet and wearing a placebo. Dr Gareth Irwin, the head of bio-mechanics at the university said, "Very simply the tests show that there was no difference between wearing this dummy band or wearing the Power Balance band. We tested it statistically as well and found that there wasn't a statistical difference".
In 2010, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that "[The] claims made by Power Balance were not supported by any credible scientific evidence and therefore Power Balance has admitted that it has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in breach of s 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974." While the refund policy that they were forced to adopt looks like a
strap slap on the wrist, the admission of misleading conduct that they were forced to publish was picked up by non-Australian media and may cause them more trouble.
- Power Balance: Available in British, American, Australian, South African, South East Asian, and other exciting flavors
- The company's ad channels on YouTube, Twitter, and MySpace
- What are Power Balance bands?, BBC News, 7 January 2011
- Report on the Sacrament Kings fan site
- Sacramento Bee business report.
- Power Balance band is placebo, say experts, BBC News, 22 November 2010
- Independent Investigations Group: Power Balance Experiment
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
- Example: PowerBalance Admits Their Wristbands Are a Scam, Gizmodo