Muse Brain Sensing Headband by Gaiam Corporation
Description of the Device:
The Muse Brain Sensing Headband produced by Gaiam Corporation is a headband utilized for meditation purposes. It makes use of electroencephalography (EEG) sensors to analyze the brain activity.
EEG in general is widely used by neuroscience researchers worldwide. It makes use of advanced signal processing to interpret one’s mental activity which can help to guide control over it. It is often used in hospitals and research institutions to study the brain.
Muse utilizes 7 EEG sensors; 2 on the forehead, 2 behind the ears, and 3 reference sensors. During meditation, brain activity will be monitored and this information is then transmitted to the computer, smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. The report can then be viewed right after each brain analysis session, showing the brain data. This real-time feedback tells you what is happening in your brain and guides you in achieving peace and calm.
In a way, not only can meditation be more effective with Muse’s guidance, it can also allow one to learn more about their body. Muse also provides guides about sleep, performance, stress reduction and more. Motivational challenges and rewards are also offered to encourage meditation as part of daily routine.
Furthermore, Muse 2, the second version of the first headband, added Photoplethysmography (PPG) and Pulse Oximetry breath and heart sensors on the front, right-hand side of the forehead. PPG is an optical technique that measures blood volume variations. Pulse Oximetry calculates the arterial oxygen saturation in a non-invasive manner. Furthermore, gyroscope (determines orientation) and accelerometer (used to measure non-gravitational acceleration) body sensors can be found behind the ear. The increase in balancing the body and blood flow helps to calm the body easier. On top of that, there is no electrical stimulation.
Muse can detect a range of brain electrical activity and transforms this information into easily understandable experiences for the common masses. Raw brain signals are transformed into many different components such as noise, oscillations, non-periodic characteristics and transient and event-related brain events.
Signal-processing and machine learning techniques are also applied to the brain signal components to control the experience in real time, encouraging more effective feedback for the person meditating.
Convenience of information is also taken into account for with Muse. with MuseDirect available on iOS, it can help to record, visualize and stream EEG and movement sensor data from Muse. This information is retrieved from the raw data and band powers to head movement and rotation. It can be used for neurofeedback, research, art installations, and even education purposes.
Pros & Cons of the Device (Analysis):
- You can know whenever your mind becomes distracted during a meditation session — Can consciously try to bring your mind back to its calm state from any emergence of unnecessary distraction and improve understanding about your state of mind
- Impressive Build Quality- Bluetooth, handy, and information can be transmitted over various devices
- Portable, lightweight and very small
- Affordable for its function (for a health device that can benefit medically)
- Not electrically stimulating
- Feedback from veteran meditating users says that the device cannot really distinguish well between a calm mental state and an active mental state
- Bluetooth connectivity not perfect- connected through wireless to your smartphone.
- Battery life is not impressive
- Expensive (high-end headphones price range of $300-ish)
- Cannot be compared to professional EEG devices (such as hospital ones which cost $10K)
Suggestion for alternate use of the Device and/or modification that would generate a new application, a new artwork, a new design, etc. for the Device:
An alternate use of the device would be for First Aid and home-medication for people with anxiety issues aka psychological aid.
Anxiety problems is one of the major health concerns that does not always have a medicine. Brainlessly chugging on Xanax is not always going to help especially when the body is starting to be immune to long intakes of such medication.
Having a sister who once had a sort of Autoimmune disease which attacked her brain (anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis), it was very difficult to find a way to calm her down during her panic attacks and anxiety syndromes during her recovery phase as her brain receptors had gone wonky. Even if they try to tell themselves not to worry about practically nothing, and to try their best to “calm down”, it almost never really works because the body is not listening to the brain. The whole experience from three years back taught me that Anxiety Issues are a whole new level from physical ailments because it is a mental disturbance, and no one can physically invade the mental and emotional realm if the affected person is not even able to listen and digest anything outside of their own world. It is scary, and having a solution for that would be ideal because it is never easy to find a “solution” to calm someone with anxiety down.
With an upgraded and medically enhanced version of Muse, I believe that it can become a medical aid towards people facing similar issues because Muse can accurately decipher the actual brain state of the patient and pinpoint the issue before giving the right solutions to the patient. This can definitely ease the burden of self-hate from the patient, and also ease the workload of family members and friends who has to take care of these patients.
Another design to upgrade Muse could potentially be an arm-chair version of the device. While massaging armchairs are meant to help the body relax, this experience could be further enhanced if accurate data about how to relax the body is applied to various other parts of the body. While it is obvious that your legs and hands cannot listen to the vocal feedback, Muse Armchair can be modified such that the massage chair applies the right massaging techniques for relaxation right after receiving the real-time feedback from Muse’s physical body analysis.