Sensor Headband Promises to Reduce Stress and Increase Focus

The past year has been riddled with attempts to tie fashion and tech into one unifying concept. It wasn’t always successful, but it was an undeniably big trend. While on-the-fringe wearable tech inventions already existed, 2014 was the year the technology pushed through to the mainstream to form front-and-center collaborations between major designers and tech companies.

As we move full steam ahead into 2015, technology is poised to insert itself more rigorously into every part of daily life. But while most wearable tech is associated with keeping the user connected at all times, some tech brands are trying to skip the connectivity altogether and, in an ironic twist, train the user to disconnect and focus his or her attention on strengthening the brain.

Muse bills itself as a brain-sensing headband that promises a happier, more productive mental attitude after three minutes of use each day. The company points to a Harvard study which found that people spend 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are currently doing, which generally causes unhappiness. But put on Muse’s sensor-filled headband and it will teach you how to improve your focus through three minutes of deliberate, daily thought exercises, such as tech-aided meditation.

The exercises are built around training the user to recognize and alleviate distractions during a concentrated period of time. The headband tracks the brain in an active state, while the user is instructed to remain calm and focused on a specific, three-minute thought exercise. Every time the mind wanders, the headband picks up on increased brain activity and sends an alert. The wearer is then trained to identify the distraction and calmly refocus his or her thoughts as quickly as possible. With daily use, the user will theoretically be trained to pick up on distractions quicker and learn to resolve them faster, fighting the counterproductive and depressing consequences of a constantly wandering brain. Customers have used the headband to combat a wide variety of focus-related problems, including anxiety at work, ADHD and sleep disorders.

The buzz around this product makes sense — since technology plays a part in our distracted state of mind, it stands to reason that technology can also provide the antidote. But inventions like Muse are far from becoming ubiquitous in our culture. Most consumers aren’t ready to look like a Tron character just yet, which is an area in which Muse could fall short.

It’s a futuristic looking piece of equipment: A wide black or white band fits around the user’s forehead just above the eyebrows and secures itself behind the ears with thick, sensor-filled sections. Granted, it’s not an everyday piece of headgear, but there isn’t exactly a standard industry look for brain-sensing headbands yet.

The Muse headband makes most sense as an in-home tech device. The health benefits are far-reaching and the reduced stress and clear focus that many users swear by seem to be worth giving the headband a try. The possibility of more serene days in the future can only mean good things, and Muse could deliver on providing a reduced-stress environment for its users.

More stories in this #MobileHealth series:

· How Technology Will Help Parkinson's Patients

· Digital Healing: How New Technologies Are Changing the Lives of Patients with Auto-Immune Diseases

· Inside Innovation: HealthID’s Medical ID Bands Give Families Peace of Mind