Tracking oneself is all the rage, with quantified self devices like the Nike Fuelband, Jawbone Up, and Fitbit Flex enabling users to monitor and keep track of their physical activity over time. But what about tracking your mental concentration? A new device from a startup called Melon aims to help users monitor and improve their focus over time.
Using electroencephalography (EEG), the Melon headband monitors brain activity and can detect how well users are concentrating, and giving them feedback on how to improve. It does this by monitoring tiny electrical charges let off by neurons firing in the brain.
With three electrodes placed against the forehead, it can track this brainwave activity, and it has filtering technologies to eliminate noise frequencies that come in. Thanks to the NeuroSky chip embedded in the device, the Melon headband boasts that it can measure neural activity with 96 percent accuracy.
The headband is launching on Kickstarter, with a fairly modest goal of reaching $100,000 in pledges before going forward with a full production run of the product. For $79, the first 100 backers to the project will get a discount on the device, which is expected to cost $99. For a little more ($129), backers will be able to pick a customized color of the “badge” on the headband, or get one in annodized aluminum with a custom engraving ($159).
Kickstarter backers will also get access to the Melon mobile app, which will be available on iOS and Android devices, as a way to track their concentration. The headband has Bluetooth built-in so that users can connect their phones to the device and keep track of their activity.
The app is designed to enable users to monitor their concentration through a variety of activities, whether that means tracking them at work or during yoga or whatever. There are also a game through which they can work on achieving longer periods of focus.
Users can take note of the type of activity that they’re taking part in, as a way to track their focus levels over time. It also provides a way to track environment, feelings, and other details which might effect your concentration. During the activity, the app will store trends about how different behaviors affect your focus, and can provide tips and tricks to improve. It also has push notifications to let you know if your focus is slipping.
While the team has built its own app, it’s also hoping to court developers to build software and mobile applications that hook into its hardware. It’ll have an SDK available and will allow developers to have access to the focus and raw EEG data, as well as algorithms for different mental states.
Melon was created by Arye Barnehama and Laura Michelle Berman, as well as their lead electrical engineer Janus Ternullo. The team has raised a small round of funding to get it through the prototype stage, but is now turning to Kickstarter to help fund production and get units shipped.