For as skilled as you’ve become at getting stuff done at home in the face of a screaming baby or nagging toddler, concentrating at the office can still be a challenge ⏤ especially if you work in an open floorplan. But since you can’t pass out juice boxes to your coworkers and put Curious George on the iPad, these smart headphones use wizard science to help “improve concentration and maximize your productivity.”
At first glance, Mindsets are yet another pair of aesthetically pleasing wireless, noise-canceling headphones. They’re Bluetooth-enabled, made by Japanese audio specialists Onkyo, can run 8 hours on a single charge, and feature soft microfiber cups. So you can work straight through that awkward hour-long call your deskmate just had with his girlfriend and your ears won’t hurt. At least not because you’re wearing headphones.
What makes Mindsets noteworthy, however, lies in the 5 spring-loaded electroencephalography (EEG) sensors that are built into the headband and monitor/record your brain’s electrical wave patterns in real time. (And yes, just to be clear, that’s the same “EEG” technology you’d find in a hospital and/or have heard referenced on every medical TV drama ever.) The key here, however, is that the sensors reportedly can detect when your brain is focused on a task and when it becomes distracted; when it notices you start to drift, it shocks the hell out of you. Kidding! No, it just beeps/dings to snap you out of your daydream and back to work. Kind of like Pavlov’s dogs. The more it happens, though, the more your brain supposedly becomes trained to tune out distractions. In fact, they claim that eventually it’ll be trained so well you won’t even need their headphones ⏤ which, admittedly, seems like a terrible business model.
In any case, there are other cool features: namely, it syncs to your computer to mute incoming notifications (to avoid temptation) and can tell when your brain is too tired to work, even recommending a set amount of time you should take away from your task to recover. Not only that, but after only a few sessions, Mindsets reportedly knows your peak work hours during the day, thus enabling you to “get into the zone” and tackle tougher tasks at the right time. That will free up less productive brain time to set your fantasy football lineup.
How well these things work, or even whether continuous exposure to EEG waves is something people should be worried about, is anybody’s guess. People on Kickstarter, however, don’t care: Mindset’s already cleared $360k on a $100k ask. Paving the way for a revolutionary device that could make distractions a thing of the … “Seriously, please, shut up!” … sorry, wait, what were you saying?
(Available December 2017)