Plenty of top-flight headphones have noise-cancelling features to help listeners tune out the rest of the world. Now, a new set of brain-hacking headphones, Mindset, is taking everything a step further and adding distraction-canceling tech to keep you in the zone.
Mindset, which just launched as a Kickstarter project, promises to include all the bells and whistles you’d expect from premium over-ear headphones — they’re wireless with noise-cancelling capabilities, and the sound comes from Onkyo, a Japanese luxury brand that specializes in audio equipment. But there’s something embedded in the band that makes Mindset unique.
The headset contains five electroencephalography (EEG) sensors, which measure the electrical activity in your brain while you’re listening to your tunes. Right when the sensors read that you’ve reached the point of distraction, the headphones give a subtle audio cue to get you back on track.
The boosted concentration features come through neurofeedback training. That method has a track record of treating conditions like ADHD using information from EEG to gain insight on how the brain functions. By actively honing brainwaves toward more desirable frequencies, patients are able to improve their concentration skills, stress levels and even curb anxiety.
Mindset’s training system depends on a connected software program that uses machine learning to track and identify the EEG readings through a series of tests and games that the user completes. Once the program establishes a baseline, users can wear the headphones, gaining insight into their behavior as the sensors do their thing.
The Mindset team gave Mashable a sneak peak at the system. Unfortunately, they only had a prototype handy, since the product isn’t quite ready for commercial production. I didn’t get to listen to any music — obviously a huge red flag, since that’s what you’ll be using these for — but I did get to test the neurofeedback training process.
It was a trippy, fun time — I’d never seen my brainwaves up on a screen before.
They put me through a series of games and tests on the program to get a baseline reading of my brainwaves. I mentally lifted a digital anvil, focused on three different forms of stimuli at once and, trickiest of all, solved mental math problems on the clock for the first time since fourth grade.
The Mindset software provided feedback and actionable insights after getting acclimated to how my brain worked. The idea was to help me take advantage of my best, most productive working hours. Even after only a few tests, it had some personalized advice — and the Mindset team assured me that more data makes the system much more accurate and tailored to each individual user.
The headphones clearly need some work before they’re ready for widespread use — hence the Kickstarter — but the Mindset system looks like it could be a big help for harried office workers looking to hack their productivity.
Mindset’s Kickstarter campaign is live today, with an estimated delivery to backers in December. The headphones will retail for $349 — but super early birds looking to boost their focus will only have to spend $189.