In today’s busy world it takes a while to transition from a hectic work day to a relaxing evening at home, leaving us tired and stressed. Thankfully, there are several new technological devices being developed in order to facilitate this transition and even ease mental health. These devices use a combination of neuroscience with consumer wearables and algorithms. Read on to find out what these devices can do and how they work.
First Hand Account
Samantha Murphy Kelly, Senior Tech Correspondent for Mashable.com, gives a detailed description of what it feels like to wear one of these latest devices (the Muse in particular). “I’m staring at a beach and listening for seagulls in the distance. When a voice asks me to concentrate on my breathing, requesting I count in sequences of ten, I follow the command and my body starts to loosen.” As she is distracted by the sound of the ocean waves, she accidentally skips a number and becomes flustered. In response to her elevated stress, the wind starts to pick up, and she is instructed that only her brain waves can bring the cadence of the environment to normalcy again. Eventually, the wind resumes to a calm blow as she regains control of her emotions.
This surrounding sounds like an ideal vacation. Despite how real it feels, Samantha is still in her newsroom office, sitting at her desk. She is sporting what looks like Google Glass for the forehead and some headphones. The Muse is a$300 dollar brain-sensor headband from the Indiegogo Campaign. It runs you through a series of relaxing and de-stressing exercises that mellow your mood in minutes, yet giving you the effects of a 30 minute yoga meditation session.
Varying from 3 minutes to 20 minutes, Samantha says that she has become noticeably relaxed each time, yet she has not yet reached full zen. She uses her iOS device and monitors her progress with the Muse App. She is supposed to build her calmness and hear more birds in the activity. The app tells her that her brain has only picked up on minor chirps. This means she was able to focus on breathing and block out background noise of waves and wind. There are still minor details that she will hear with more exercise with Muse.
The Muse headband is just one of several new emerging devices that are combining relaxation with wearable technology to make the wearer more aware of his or her overall being. There have been many developments of devices that improve your physicals self, such as the tennis racket that helps with your swing or fitness tracking devices like the yoga mat that helps you improve your poses or the wristwatch that helps with running marathons. These all help with physical productivity. The new trend now has a greater emphasis on the mental side. These new devices help monitor and control brain activity and thought processes to alleviate stress and promote smoother relaxation transition from the hustle and bustle of the workplace to home.
What You Need
The best feature of the Muse is its portability. All you need is the headband, a mobile phone or tablet and some time. You can do this at home on the couch, on a plane or bus or even at the office. It becomes a game to relax. If your mind wanders, Muse will help you focus.
How It Works
“The headband measures the electrical signals from your brain with the help of seven sensors — three in the center that establish a basis of brain activity, two behind the ears and two others off to the sides, all of which collect and translate data into feedback you can understand”. Samantha says the only tricky part is to get the sensors to line up properly on parts of the forehead. After the alignment, the mental workout, or rather the journey to zen, begins.
Other Sensory Devices
Other devices that help unwind that have been discussed lately include the Thync, which uses sensors to detect your brain’s activity and helps users become more energized, focused or relaxed, depending on your preference. It is praised for mimicking the effects of a caffeine boost or supplements, without the need to take anything.
Mental Focus and Life De-cluttering
Muse and Thync are not the only anti-stress devices. Other brain-sensor headpieces are the Emotiv and Brainbot that can generate feedback from your brain activity. Technological wearables have been popular lately in the field of productivity, such as the smart-watches that track movement or send you emails, yet the time has finally come for a space to de-clutter the mind. The new trend of calming tools will be beneficial to mental focus and relaxation.