TouchTech: Muse, the brain sensing headband

Muse is a “brain sensing headband” created by InteraXon in Toronto, Canada, an “innovator in brain-sensing technology”. The company was founded in 2007 by Ariel Garten, Trevor Coleman, and Chris Aimone, although product development began in 2003. Their latest Muse 2 product is “a multi-sensor meditation device that provides real-time feedback on mental activity, heart rate, breathing, and body movements.” The device helps users achieve calm, concentration, and relaxation through improved, regular meditation of 3-60 minutes per day. It measures neural activity using EEG (electroencephalography) and other sensors (“just as a heart monitor measures your pulse”), and then converts the signals into audio feedback such as birds, thunderstorms or raindrops to guide and train the wearer to adapt their thoughts. The measured data is tracked and recorded, available through the accompanying smartphone app.

The product is currently being studied for its effectiveness. It achieved success with its 2012 Indiegogo campaign which raised $288K USD, 191% of its goal. The hope of the founders is that one day Muse or similar BCI (brain-controlled intelligence) technology will be used for thought control, for example, to play games or operate toys or appliances.

Muse is an excellent example of synergy, as it combines and enhances both digital and analog benefits. It is similar to other “phygical” (or “TouchTech”) devices in the healthcare and wellness space, such as FitBit (step tracker), Apple Watch, or Peloton (spinning bicycle).

Muse is a “smart” personal wellness device that offers the analog benefit of tangibility with the digital benefit of trackability: it combines analog physicality (the device-free practice of meditation and a physical headband) with high-tech features and functionality (a mobile smartphone app with data measurement, monitoring and reporting).

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It offers a simple, light, minimalist design so that the wearer doesn’t appear too adorned and is as “natural” as possible. It has a singular focus: to help the user better meditate through feedback. Finally, it provides haptic feedback by converting sensory measures into audio.

InteraXon could implement these strategies to further improve its marketing of Muse:

  1. Sell directly through the website, marketplaces (Amazon) and social channels (Instagram, Pinterest). Availability across channels will build awareness.
  2. Develop partnerships and B2B relationships with hospitals, medical practices, and physicians to sell devices at greater volumes and to normalize its use.
  3. Create informational content (articles and videos) explaining the benefits of meditation, supported by research from scientists and recognized subject matter experts. Greater attention to the need for this product would widen its market.
  4. Encourage reviews (comments, photos, “unboxing” videos”) from real customers (“it works!”) to avoid perception as a niche “sci-fi” product
  5. Create demonstration videos that simulate the experience of using Muse (eg, a split-screen video of what the wearer sees/hears compared to what Muse measures).
  6. Promote and demonstrate Muse at relevant medical, health and wellness events to gain maximum exposure to the healthcare community.
  7. Exploit recent trends towards health and “mindfulness” with messaging targetted at inexperienced, beginners meditators (e.g, “what’s better than superfoods? Meditation!”)
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