When we lose focus at work, it takes us an average of 11 minutes to regain it. Wandering thoughts, physical interruptions, and barrages of messages and notifications result in unfinished work, stress, and poor mental health.
The neurotechnology company Neurable has launched headphones that use artificial intelligence to help the wearer focus. The headphones, dubbed Enten, are brain-computer interface (BCI) devices, similar to previous products designed by the company that were meant to learn from human movement and predict intent.
Neurable's first breakthrough technology allowed you to control virtual reality (VR) with your mind. Since then, Neurable has co-developed a VR game with Red Bull that debuted at Red Bull's Lollapalooza outpost in August 2019, created new EEG interpretation tools, and is now deploying its software tools in VR simulation training applications. With this funding round, Neurable will expand its focus from VR applications to consumer devices.
The company’s transition from VR to broader applications is a natural one: “We are applying many of the same industry-leading machine learning techniques from our VR-based applications to our headphone prototypes,” said Neurable CEO Dr. Ramses Alcaide. “By making a brain-computer interface in the form of headphones, we will be able to provide the benefits of Neurable’s technology to many more people.”
These high-tech headphones are equipped with sensors that scan your brain for electrical activity; Neurable’s proprietary AI then processes that data and produces a user-friendly reading via a Bluetooth-connected app. As a result, for example, Enten could increase the noise-canceling function if the sensors detect your distraction is rising, Mark Ellwood reports in Robbreport.
Six years ago, Alcaide and Adam Molnar, both graduate students at the University of Michigan, developed this futuristic neurotechnology. In the past, understanding the brain’s electrical signals required unwieldy lab equipment. The pair cracked the puzzle of how to bring those sensors out of the lab and still produce dependable brain data. “It was a balancing act,” Molnar says, “The best analogy is to think of data as fuel for your car—if you have a Ferrari, and you’re putting garbage into it, it’s not going to go well.”
The headphones are also premium audio devices. The company hired a former Bose VP of product to ensure that. The Enten headphones are set to debut next year and will cost $400 per pair.