We Controlled a Computer With Our Mind: Hands-On With Muse

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We’re seeing the future taking shape before our eyes here at CES 2013. Not only do we have fully immersive virtual reality and advanced gesture controls, we’re now interacting with our computers using nothing but our minds. Muse, the brainchild of InteraXon, is a minimalist and stylish brainwave reader that allows you to visualize your own brainwaves as well as interact with your computer in an thoughtful new way.

The Muse headset fits like a flexible pair of glasses without the lenses, resting behind the ears with a single band running across the forehead. There are four dry metal sensors that rest against the forehead, which do not require any messy lubrication in order to pick up a signal. Unlike the NeuroSky Mindwave Mobile, which only uses one sensor, the Muse is able to have greater accuracy as well as triangularization to target activity within different parts of the brain.

We put the headset on and sat in a chair in front of two large televisions. On the left was a real-time reading of our brain waves and underneath was a graph with two lines, one for relaxation and the other for focus. On the right screen was an artistic interpretation of what was happening in our brains. For example, when our relaxation went higher than 80 percent, it would start to snow. There was also a bird animation that would occur when our focus went above a certain threshold.

This product demo was just an example of the Muse’s capabilities. The company is also working on a suite of applications called the Brain Health System, which will feature brain-interactive games, mind controlled audio and guided exercises. While we weren’t able to try the Brain Health System at the conference, we were especially interested in the audio, which will create a beat based on certain waves and then add audio elements based on your brain’s continued activity.

The Muse especially stands out against the competition because of its stylish and modern design. We spoke with Ariel Garten, the CEO of InteraXon, as she wore her own Muse system. With her hair down, we could barely tell that she was wearing a piece of technology, it just looked like a thin headband. She told us that she’ll wear the Muse while going shopping or running errands and has never gotten any unusual looks or questions.

“I’ll even stop and ask people what they think of the tech on my head,” Gartenl told us. “They won’t even know what I’m talking about. They’ll just say, ‘You look cute.’ They have no idea that I’m wearing tech.” One of the product’s original selling points was “do not look like a dork.”

The Muse headset will cost $199 and should be available for purchase this year. The booth was really buzzing with activity and, with such a cool technology, it’s not hard to understand why.

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Dann Berg
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