High-tech headband reads your mind

Controlling things with touch, voice and gestures might one day be old-fashioned. The new Muse headband, which reads your brainwaves, could be a step towards mind control.

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The Fitbit Flex goes around your wrist. Google Glass goes over your eyes. Now there's a high-tech headband that goes on your forehead.

While the look may be distracting, the purpose of the Muse brain-sensing headband is to clear your mind of distractions. Toronto-based Interaxon says it developed Muse to help people regain focus to improve productivity and decrease stress.

The Muse headband contains sensors on the forehead and behind the ears. You slip it on like a pair of glasses.

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Jared Kohler/CNET

"The headband picks up brainwave data and sends it to your phone. Then it's able to show you how your brain is doing," explained Interaxon co-founder Ariel Garten. "It can show when your thoughts are calm and when you're focused on what's in front of you. Or when your brain is active, when you have tons of thoughts, when you're bothered, when you're agitated, when your mind is wandering."

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Jared Kohler/CNET

The brainwave data is translated onto the corresponding app as a beach scene. When your mind is active, you hear the wind pick up and the clouds come in. When your mind is calm, you hear birds chirp and see a clear day. Users go through a 3-minute exercise focusing on their breathing to try to calm their thoughts and clear out the clouds. It's similar to guided meditation.

If you're worried about it somehow influencing you, Garten added this reassurance: "Muse is completely passive. It can't control your mind."

But she says someday it could help people control and interact with their devices using their minds. "So you'll be controlling your home lighting systems and you'll be answering your telephone using things like Muse. That's 10, 15 years in the future."

If that's too much to think about now, just remember to breathe.

 

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