Meditation has been shown to be a helpful addition to many therapies that treat various psychosocial conditions as well as just everyday stress. For many of us with our busy lives, meditation is a practice that does not come naturally nor do we feel like we have the time to allocate to the activity. Muse, the meditation headband, has come a long way since we last covered it. It is a device that uses electroencephalography (EEG) to record brain waves and transmits the data wirelessly to a mobile device where the data is then analyzed. Many of the changes since the last iteration include, but are not limited to, the physical design as well as how the mobile app guides the user through each session.
Via the app, it takes you through simple calibration steps for the headband and then begins a session where it instantly teleports you to a location of your choice using background sounds. I personally prefer the beach setting. With this background, when your mind begins to wander during the meditation session, the rain becomes more turbulent which notifies the user to focus on their breath. The longer you keep your focus, the more “calm points” you receive, and at the end, you can access data recorded from the full session.
Appearance and Design
The device is very sleek and easy to use. While the headband is adjustable, I found that it took a few tries to get good contact with my skin to get a clear signal. However, once I found the right settings for me, the signal remained stable. The free Muse App only takes a few minutes to download and setup, and once the Bluetooth module is set up, the app guides the user through every step towards better meditation. The user interface for Muse is simple and aesthetically pleasing.
I was able to test out the device over the course of a little more than a week. I am naturally an anxious person, and I’ve tried to get into meditation many times. However, I always fall out of the routine after the first few days. What was different when I was using Muse was the ability to actually get real-time feedback during the meditation session as well as get a score at the end regarding how the overall session went. Essentially, Muse gamified meditation and made meditating an enjoyable activity rather than a chore. Also, the app includes the option to turn off guidance if the user is comfortable or finds it too distracting.
The only comment that I had about the product’s physical design is that there is only a single button on the headband which is both a pro and a con. While it simplifies the use so that there aren’t as many buttons, having all the functions to turn off, turn on, synchronize with Bluetooth, resetting, etc. using one button makes the process actually more bothersome.
One of the unique aspects about Muse is the company’s resources for research development. They have a library of programs to help extract and visualize the raw brain data coming from the Muse headband and easily allows for digital signal processing techniques to be applied. I was not able to look too deeply into this aspect of the product as it’s meant for developers, but it definitely seems promising.
When I first saw Muse at Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular in SF, I was intrigued. This product successfully demonstrates a novel application of a well-developed technology. The product is well designed for intuitive use and is moderately priced. While I am no expert at meditation, I feel like the Muse is definitely worth trying out. And in comparison, other products that use similar EEG technology are often well beyond the price of this product.
Link to purchase on Amazon…
Product page: Muse headband…