The Muse brain-training headband promises to help you reduce stress and anxiety in just three minutes a day. I went with our TechCrunch TV crew to chat with Muse co-founder and CEO Ariel Garten and to try out the tech…which turned into my own, personal calmness competition.
I ended up surprising Garten with a much calmer-than-average mind, as indicated by a high score of 498 points and 19 birds. Why points and birds? Garten told me the more quiet you are the more birds come sit by you. It didn’t make sense to me, either, but my scores were high for both. Encouraged by this ego-boosting news, I turned into sudden overachiever mode, asking how I could get even more birds and points in order to “win” at meditating. Not sure that should be the focus for relaxation, but I felt pretty good about it.
For the curious, here’s a run down of how Muse worked for me:
What you don’t see on the video above is that I went through the program twice so that our videographer could work in some video magic after the shoot. The second time yielded zero birds. But in my defense, the music was off the second time and someone kept squeaking their chair over and over again in the background.
Much like other brain sensor type products such as Emotiv or BrainBot, Muse uses electroencephalography (EEG) to read feedback from your brain. Muse uses this feedback to show you how calm or active your mind becomes over time. It then inputs that information into a program on your tablet or smartphone (available for both iPhone and Android).
While I am obviously already (maybe?) on the road to enlightenment (that or hell) and don’t think I would personally spend $299 for a device promising greater serenity, it could be useful for those getting into meditation for the first time. For me there’s no one right way to meditate and really any time you can spend just sitting quietly with your mind here and there is a good thing.
However, this device could perhaps help those dealing with too much stress in their daily lives and give them a way to measure progress by monitoring their brain activity.