Can Braintech Create a New Generation of Superhumans?

By Jennifer Marron
Published April 7, 2022 | 28 min listen

The idea is a simple but powerful one: by leveraging neurotechnology, consumers can find meaningful ways to live a healthier, happier life.

For those who measure their daily steps and heart rates via wearable health tech like Fitbits or Apple Watches, why not extend that monitoring to brain activity? After two years of increased stress brought on by a global pandemic, it seems many are looking for devices to help calm their minds, sleep better, or boost productivity. The new pressures on our health and well-being is set to propell the wearables market to potentially USD118.16 billion by 2028. There’s now a wide range of new brain computer interface powered by artificial intelligence, promising to help each one of us reach our full cognitive potential. The idea is a simple but powerful one: by leveraging neurotechnology, consumers can find meaningful ways to live a healthier, happier life.

With neurotech, and braintech picking up steam in the past year, a new generation of entrepreneurs is taking wearable health technology a step further to solve some of society’s biggest neurological challenges, as well as finding ways to enhance our quality of life. One leading Canadian company in the space is Toronto’s Interaxon, makers of Muse, a popular headband that senses brain activity through meditation exercises and provides real-time feedback on your brain, heart and breath direct to a phone or tablet. We spoke to the company’s CEO, Derek Luke on the latest episode of the Disruptors podcast, about the industry’s exciting future, and its implications for the medical device space, which could also prompt a new set of privacy and ethical challenges.

Muse is an application of neurofeedback, a tool for training how to regulate one’s brain waves. In fact, neurofeedback is just one of the newer technologies being touted as a way to catapult us to higher, more enlightened states of consciousness. Interaxon believes the integration of real-time biosensors will help us better understand, predict and ultimately change our moods, behaviours and emotional states.

It’s all about training how we use our brains. In Muse’s guided mediation, the technology encourages focusing on a single task to help better understand our brain functions to improve meditation, focus, hypnagogic states, brain performance, cognitive fatigue, and more. “What we’re doing is we’re training that brain muscle to stop people from multitasking and bring it onto a single point of focus,” explained Luke.

The exercises generate large amounts of data, with Interaxon’s 500,000 users globally that have logged over 100 million minutes, resulting in one of the largest electroencephalogram (EEG), or brain data, collections in the world. Technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning crunch that data to create meaningful learnings on how our brains function.

“Where the technology really comes alive is when you can pair it with a mobile phone, and then the other thing is massive cloud infrastructure that you can then take that data and use supercomputers to analyze the data,” said Luke. The level of opportunity into applications that use biometric data is still largely untapped and unexplored, including in areas such as creative flow and psychedelic states, education and training, social gaming, and more.

“I think the future is going to be less about controlling things, but understanding underlying pathology changes in your brain, be it something severe like a stroke or something like aging that happens over a long time, I think that’s going to be the true value that our technology brings to the world,” said Luke.

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Jennifer Marron

Jennifer Marron
Producer, Disruptors