A brain-sensing Bluetooth headband to help you meditate

The Muse2 is worn firmly across the forehead to ensure good connection with the exposed sensors.

My first meditation session with the device was woeful. I was thinking too much about the band and my mind was all over the place. And yes, amazingly the graph reflected that.

The beauty of this headband is that it also gives feedback in real time. The background environments you choose, such as wind and rain, reflect the state of your brain. When your thoughts are bouncing around, the rain becomes louder in your headphones, when you’re calm and focussed it’s softer.

This is incredibly useful, because it means when I hear hard rain or wind I can bring my mind back onto the breath immediately, rather than slowly realising this much later on in the session.

A couple of times I thought I was doing well but the rain rained harder, then I was annoyed and it was hard to get my concentration back with all the noisy rain. But, as in any meditation, take a deep breath and refocus.

The Muse2 headset.

The Muse2 headset.

When you are in a more relaxed state you can hear the gentle twittering of birds. The graph also shows ‘recovery points’, where the app reckons you’ve consciously recovered from losing concentration. I’m not entirely convinced, but it seemed to identify when I refocused some of the time.

Connecting and setting up the device and app is easy, and the app has a built in tutorial that takes you through the process. Each meditation starts with a brief calibrating session that determines a baseline for brain activity.

You have the option of saving your meditation information for each session. I found a record of my meditation history helpful to see how I was progressing, or not. My mind was particularly calm in one session when I was concentrating better on my breathing, and I had a good-looking graph, with most of the brainwaves in the calm region. The graphs seemed to pretty much reflect how I thought my meditations went.

As well as brain activity sensors, the Muse2 has breath and heart sensors, and gyroscope and accelerometer body sensors behind the earpieces, so the device can measure breathing, heart rate, and body movement, with meditations and feedback to help you for example, reduce your heart rate or to sit still.

There are some game like elements in the app, with points, goals and challenges to keep people motivated.

The headband is light, which also makes it flimsy, so it’s not something that can be thrown around like a pair of sunglasses.

Interaxon assures us of the privacy of our meditation stats, but with seemingly every digital device collecting our data, now we can add information about our brains to that list.

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