A new app helps.
ecently I underwent what is called a ‘Technology Cleanse’ – more commonly known as ‘Unplugging’. Yes, scientists and psychologists have been screaming from the rooftops that we are overusing our devices and need a clean break from them. Meditation has been recommended to help us with this break from devices. However, even with meditation apps, not all of us are able to meditate. Enter “Brain-reading Sunglasses”. The new question becomes, “Can smart-phoneconnected sunglasses bring your mind to a place of peace?”
Technology for meditation: it sounds like a paradox, right? The whole point of meditation, in a sense, is to unplug. And yet, meditation tech has become wildly popular over the past year. Apple picked the app “Calm”, a mindfulness and meditation app, for its app of the year in 2017, and competitors like Headspace have developed loyal followings.
Meditation has never been easy for me, but I’ve been trying it for years, in no small part to get away from the constant distraction of technology. I am not particularly hooked on the social media and workflow apps that my phone has made all too convenient. Yet, an invitation from Facebook or Linkedin does not go unanswered. So, the idea of using a smartphone and a pair of ear buds to clear my mind always seemed too counter-intuitive to even try.
However, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show featured a meditation technology that did just this – presented a pair of brainreading sunglasses by a company named Smith Optics. These were not your typical apps which have a soothing voice whisporing in your ears to “chill out”.
These shades actually have EEG sensors in the bridge of the nose and behind the ears that read your brain waves. The sunglasses pair with a smartphone app (Okay, it’s an app but hold on – you’ll see the difference) that you use with a pair of headphones. You put the sunglasses on so they touch your skin, start the session on the app, and sit quietly. As your brain starts to become more active, you begin to hear a very basic, non-annoying ocean-wave sound. The more distracted you are, the louder the wave sound becomes. It works, drowning out your thoughts, and allows you to realise that your mind is drifting into things you need not think about. The beauty of this tech is that it isn’t someone telling you to chill out, which would be patronising and obnoxious. The wave brings you to a chill space, a quiet mind. As your brain activity begins to reduce, so does the volume of the wave sound. Your calmness will be rewarded with silence.
Afterwards the app shows a chart, indicating how much you were able to keep your mind quiet. And you will feel confident that if you tried again the next day, you’d be able to relax even more. The app also has guided meditation options with areas of focus for people who want to do targeted cognitive training – for instance, to improve sleep or relaxation or the general ability to improve their focus.
So, if you’re like me, and too cool to meditate with just a smart phone app, a pair of brain-reading sunglasses could actually help you; at the very least, it’s better than some creepy digital whisper.
MEDITATION GETS A TECHY TOUCH AS YOUR BRAIN STARTS TO BECOME MORE ACTIVE, YOU BEGIN TO HEAR A VERY BASIC, NON-ANNOYING OCEAN-WAVE SOUND. THE MORE DISTRACTED YOU ARE, THE LOUDER THE WAVE SOUND BECOMES.