I tested Muse, a connection object to learn and improve meditation techniques. A surprising device, since it can read in your thoughts. Well almost. But before the bad languages are loosened, I specify that this article is not sponsored. I’m talking about this product because I tested it, it works, I like it and it can interest you.
I started to practice meditation in high school, made curious by the book offered by my colleagues. Ten years later, I stay in phase with some of the teachings of this book, straight out of a martial arts film: “let go, make the void, live the moment …”
Maybe I’ll be more believable with some numbers. Meditation allowed me to improve my apnea performance. By doing regular exercises, I exploded my old personal static apnea record from 3min20sec to 4min. I’m still far from 10 minutes of apnea, but the meditation should still allow me to progress, a handful of seconds after the other. In short, let’s go back to the main subject of this article.
Muse, first personal meditation assistant
Muse? It’s not just a British rock band. It is also the first consumer connected object that can analyze brain activity to practice meditation. When placed on the head, Muse’s sensors detect brain activity, which is displayed as an electroencephalogram and pie charts.
“A headband that reads the thought … Hmm… OK …
But how does it work concretely?
- To use Muse, you have to connect it to a smartphone via Bluetooth after installing the Muse application.
- Then it’s straightforward: start a meditation session and let the soundscape guides yourself.
- If you succeed in emptying your mind, Muse broadcasts in the speaker of your smartphone (or in your headphones) a relaxing and light sound: the lapping of wavelets spread out at the edge of a lake, singing On the other hand, as soon as your mind begins to wander (thinking of the time that passes, your desire to scratch your back, the list of your next races … etc ..)
- Muse detects your change of age. Brain activity and the diffused sound atmosphere becomes more and more hostile: bursts of wind, the roaring thunder …
Unpacking, and first uses
Muse has a look halfway between a headband and a pair of glasses. The finishes and the choice of materials are well thought out; the size is small. Muse is easily adjusted to any size/shape of the head. Although it is flexible, it looks slightly fragile.
During the installation, I blocked 20 minutes on Bluetooth synchronization between my smartphone and Muse. I’m almost ashamed … Bluetooth comes out of my eyes. I find it too unstable. As soon as I have to use a new Bluetooth device … it skips.
But as soon as the first connection to Muse succeeds, the following ones are without a hitch.
The interface of the Muse application is intuitive, although it is not yet translated into French. At a glance, we know whether to move the device on the head so that all its sensors are in place. We quickly identify how to start a meditation session. Be careful though! Before each session, the device must be calibrated for one minute. Calibration consists in thinking successively of three themes (known characters, school, cooking …) respectively for 15 seconds, before being able to begin the exercise. In the long run, it quickly becomes annoying, but it is necessary to calibrate the analysis of the electroencephalogram.
I begin my first meditation session on Muse. First test: will the device react if I purposely think of something to increase my brain activity? .. Yes! It works! Come on, we focus, deep inspiration … slow expiration …
… Three minutes later my first session ends. On the screen of my smartphone appears a precise balance of my session with the detail of my brain activity (qualified calm, passive, or active ).
Muse adds a fun concept with trophies to win and a personal scoring system . Meditation becomes a game in augmented reality. The longer your meditation sessions are well done, the more points you earn. Points allow you to unlock extended performance monitoring features. I quickly took the game.
Muse keeps its promises. I tested it with headphones, and finally with a mini stereo speaker connected with a jack. I would have much preferred to connect Muse WiFi to my TV via my Chromecast, but during my test application Muse was not compatible. I hope it will come in a future software release! And I hope the app can connect to the Muse to update it.
But the painting could not be perfect. When I tested it, the application was unfortunately only available in English, which can block some buyers. He also lacked coach advice to explain and track the level reached by the user [Note: since my test this feature has been added!].
To sum up, Muse put a big slap on me. We live in the science fiction of our parents. What excites me about this object is the first step towards the mind control general public – connected objects controlled by thought within reach of all. Muse also provides an SDK for developers who want to create their applications based on this device.
I was sad to return it (at my request the company Muse had lent me a copy to test it). The happy owners will have something to celebrate with this compact, powerful, easy-to-use device, both a measurement tool and a personal coach. That does not make it a mainstream product.
How do I care for your Muse headband?
Your Muse is a sensitive device and should be treated with care.
• Do not wet or immerse your Muse in water or other liquids.
• Do not expose the headset to extremely high or extremely low temperatures.
• Protect your Muse from sunlight when it is not in use.
• Do not open, disarm or attempt to repair your Muse.
• Do not let your Muse fall and protect it from a sudden blow.
• The Muse headband is flexible but must be protected against extreme bending to prevent damage.
• If you are a regular user, cleaning your Muse headband can also help. Occasionally, use a small amount of alcohol on a cotton swab and gently rub the sensors on the forehead band and the silicone earbuds. Make sure you do not use too much, just swipe the cotton swab and gently rub the entire surface of your Muse headband.
Muse is a niche product and if you already practice meditation exercises, I recommend it. However, if you have never done meditation before, do not throw yourself headlong into slamming 300 balls in a headband. Start rather with a free solution. Example: Borrow a book from a library, or if someone around you practices meditation, borrow a learning medium. After a few months, see if the practice of meditation you like, and if your practice is regular, you will be able to break your piggy bank!