Lumosity has been slapped with a $2 million fine for false advertising, after its popular brain-enhancing app has been proven ineffective in maximizing brain power and warding off cognitive decline.
The startup, headquartered in San Francisco, California, had been in business ever since 2007, after being founded in 2005.
Marketing messages had promised would-be subscribers that accessing Lumosity’s software, available for mobile devices and desktops, would have significant effects on cognitive abilities, boosting academic or job performance, by reducing symptoms caused by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other similar conditions.
Company officials had even suggested that the engaging platform is beneficial in ensuring recovery after traumatic brain injuries, and in combating down the naturally occurring slowdown in mental agility, triggered by aging.
They had also indicated that the collection of 40 games could stave off stave off progressive brain degeneration, such as that associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
Now, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has disproved such claims, accusing the startup’s executives of having taken advantage of people’s fears regarding aging and its implacable effects.
As pointed out by Jessica Rich, director at the federal agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, few of us are comfortable with the fact that gradually our mental prowess will fade, and that’s exactly what Lumosity wanted to build its business on.
The FTC even showed that allegedly objective testimonials extolling the benefits of the brain-boosting software had actually been written after company officials organized contests rewarding the best review.
Users had been coaxed into praising the program, while being assured that they would receive lifetime subscriptions (normally costing $299.95), vacations and other appealing rewards.
In a settlement whose details have been made public on Tuesday, January 6, the FTC has asked the startup to cease to make unfounded statements regarding its products, and pay penalties amounting to $2 million, for its misleading advertising.
The company, also known as Lumos Labs, had managed to attract a total of 70 million customers, from 182 nations, by suggesting that its brain-training software actually works flawlessly.
Now, all of the subscribers that have opted to continue to benefit from this type of service from January 2009 until December 31, 2014 will have to be promptly informed regarding the dispute resolution reached with the FTC.
Each of these buyers, who chose $14.95 monthly subscriptions and other payment plans, will also have to be provided with extensive information regarding the steps required so as to unsubscribe, and benefit from refunds or compensation.
Meanwhile, Lumosity representatives have confirmed that they have accepted the FTC settlement, but this doesn’t in any way suggest that the mobile app’s benefits have been overhyped.
Instead, the decision was simply triggered by a disagreement regarding marketing terms that had been used when promoting this product.
According to them, the Lumosity software has been proven helpful on numerous occasions, one study featured in the journal PLOS One revealing that a 10-week training program relying on this app enhanced the subjects’ cognitive assessment scores significantly.
Moreover, as officials claim, the company constantly collaborates with scientists so as to boost the effectiveness of its brain games and features, while also providing subscribers the best value for money.
One such initiative takes place as part of the Human Cognition Project, which brings together physicians, neuroscientists and academic leaders worldwide, seeking to gain more insight into the human mind, so as to maximize its abilities.
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