We all live with stress. A moderate amount of stress is good for us as it gives us a reason to hop out of bed in the morning and boosts our immune system. Too much stress, however, overloads our systems, breaks down our immune system, and basically spoils what could otherwise be a perfectly fine day, or life. Diet, exercise, and meditation can all help us manage our stress levels, but many find it difficult to meditate effectively. Managing stress is one desirable result of controlling our brain activity, but many of us also have issues with concentration and focus while still others with tremors find it tough to hold, manipulate, or use objects. If we can learn to control our brains we can improve our quality of life.
InteraXon‘s Muse headband senses five types of brain waves with four sensors on the forehead and two behind the ears. With a Bluetooth wireless connection, Muse reports current activity to apps running on smartphones or tablets. The mobile apps are for consumers but developers can access the MuseLab application included in a free developers kit to view raw brainwave data on computers. The first step for most people with Muse is to learn to meditate. With the headset on the and earbuds or headphones providing audio from your phone or tablet, the Muse app voice track guides you to a relaxed natural setting and helps you start meditating. As you practice meditation aural cues representing wind and weather provide feedback as you relax, if you become bothered, or if you get distracted. With practice you can deepen meditation levels and extend the time. Beyond meditation, you can use Muse to control other brain activity. Right now, the applications include de-stressing and improving concentration and focus. In demonstrations, InteraXon has shown Muse wearers controlling lights in a light symphony. Developers foresee using Muse to play games and operate toys, stay alert, manage environmental controls in smarthomes, and more.
If you’ve tried to learn meditation on your own, you know it’s not an easy undertaking. Most people report being able to hold what they sense as a true meditative state for only seconds. Adepts, however, can maintain a restful state for much longer periods. Muse’s promise of helping people learn to relax and calm down via brainwave feedback and guidance is valuable and training in concentration and focus has implications for work, education, and creativity. The concept of using brain waves to manipulate toys and other objects and brainwave sensitive controls is a glimpse at future that could add convenience and entertainment for many and significant increases in accessibility for people with mobility and motor control issues.