Meditation hardware is a tricky thing. Anyone who’s been frustrated in the pursuit of mindfulness has no doubt longed for some way to short circuit — or, at very least, jumpstart — a practice. I quite liked the original Muse headband’s addition to the category — affording an almost gamified approach to focusing (trust me, it’s better than it sounds).
Introduced at CES 2020, the Muse S promised something even more fundamental: better sleep. When I wrote about it at the time, I was still in the very early days of testing it and, frankly, having trouble getting to sleep with a gadget on my head. I wondered aloud whether I would be able to keep it up (spoiler: I wasn’t). Today, the company is introducing a follow-up, the simply named, Muse S (Gen. 2)
This time out, the product is about staying asleep as much as getting to sleep in the first place. As someone who has more trouble with the former than the latter, I can appreciate this. Certainly it’s been a theme for me during the pandemic — passing out early and waking up for a couple (or several) hours in the middle of the night. Part of me firmly believes that we weren’t wired to sleep through the night.
Muse notes that according to the CDC, more than one-third of U.S. adults don’t get seven hours of sleep a night — and honestly, that sounds low to me. The new Muse utilizes something called Digital Sleeping Pills — an odd choice of a name that uses the band’s EEG readings to deliver sleep content on waking, in an attempt to lull the wearer back to sleep. There are a number of choices there, including:
- Original, Classic, and Adventure Sleep Stories that have a voice narration of some of your favorite childhood stories & a variety of new original stories
- Ambient Sleep Soundscapes that offer soothing ambient music and harmonized sounds without a voice narrative
- Biofeedback Sleep Soundscapes that offer nature sounds and music that respond to biofeedback without a voice narrative
- Guided Sleep Meditations that have a meditation teacher guide you through a relaxing sleep meditation
The content will also be coming to Gen 1 users via a software update. Beyond this, there are some slight tweaks to the new headband, including improved accuracy and better battery life. Pricing, I think is still a major obstacle here, at $400. I suspect plenty of people would be willing to give a sleep gadget a go at a fraction of that.