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I tried the MW75 Neuro, and it's a brain-tracking game changer
When I first heard of headphones that can read your mind, I was skeptical, to say the least. Most EEG systems used in laboratories to monitor brain activity have more than twenty sensors along the front and top of the headset to measure brain activity, such as Alpha Waves from the frontal lobe. But for the past ten years, Neurable has honed its brain-computer interface technology, named Neurable AI, and can use it to get readings that are on par with established industry-standard hardware directly from sensors on the earcups of a typical pair of headphones, bringing neurotechnology out of research labs to daily life.
The Master & Dynamic MW75 Neuro will be the first headphones to implement this technology and, with it, bring novel capabilities to the audio space, such as cognitive performance readings, hands-free control of devices, and more. Since it was technically announced last month in December 2023, it unfortunately didn’t qualify for our Best of CES 2024 awards for products announced during the show. But it would have undoubtedly received an award if they had launched at the event. I had a chance to sit down with team members from Neurable and Master & Dynamic during the show and wear the MW75 Neuro headset, and I was impressed with its ability to measure my focus in real time.
Neurable AI brings neurotechnology out of research labs to daily life.
Activating the brainwave readings is as simple as slipping on the headphones over your ears. As I directed my focus during tasks like reading an article or repeating numbers in my mind, huge spikes in activity started climbing on the screen. Then, as I entered a passive state, the waves on the graph subsided. I also wore the headset while playing a side-scrolling shooter on the Steam Deck, and the data told a story. You could follow the period where I was testing out the controls and learning how to play along the peaks and then infer when I had them memorized via the valleys for the rest of the first level.
My mind was made a little more transparent. And more than just measuring focus, the MW75 headphones can help preemptively suggest when to let your brain rest and recharge. Most people tend to rest when they feel tired, but it’s often too late when you feel the symptoms of fatigue. In one study, Dr. Ramses Alcaide recounted that subjects who acted on the Neurable app’s suggestions to rest were 20% more productive and felt 50% happier by the end of the day. Acting on that data of how our brains are doing in ways we can’t always subjectively perceive can help us take care of our mental health that much more.
The MW75 headphones can help preemptively suggest when to let your brain rest and recharge... Acting on that data... can help us take care of our mental health.
Moreover, users may be able to discover what affects their focus and what time of day their focus is best so they can be more productive in planning the day. Day-by-day and week-over-week digestion of your brain wave data may help people develop better focus habits and avoid distractions. Many of us are familiar with wearable health trackers that monitor our biometrics. Now, the new frontier is mental health data, and they are coming to audio products like headphones and earbuds for two reasons: everyone is already familiar with wearing them throughout the day, and their close proximity to the brain makes the data easy to collect.
Aside from these science-fiction-sounding capabilities and mental health benefits, the MW75 Neuro presents numerous practical applications that could seamlessly integrate into our daily lives. Imagine, for example, interactions with virtual assistants. As you’re listening to music, a simple, focused thought could skip a track or adjust the volume, streamlining your experience without physically interacting with your device. This hands-free control extends beyond entertainment, offering possibilities in various settings, from navigating a busy commute to multitasking in a work environment.
Democratizing mental health tracking is Neurable's end goal.
Of course, introducing technology that can gauge your mental state requires safe handling of that sensitive data. Neurable assures that the brainwave data collected by the MW75 Neuro is securely stored. Still, whether that will be on the user’s device or an external cloud is unclear. As consumers, understanding where and how our personal data is stored and used is vital, especially concerning sensitive information like brainwave patterns.
Though the Neurable technology is currently exclusive to Master & Dynamic headphones, the company is open to sharing the brain-tracking technology with competitors, likely for a licensing fee. The Neurable team emphasized that democratizing mental health tracking is their end goal, and that means making it available for different price points and in varying form factors. In an age where anxiety and stress levels are higher than ever, I’m hopeful for the benefits the brain-tracking technology can bring to people. I can’t wait to leverage the brain data that my next pair of headphones collect in everyday life.
The MW75-Neuro is already up for preorder on Neurable’s website. As you might expect, cutting-edge tech doesn’t come cheap, with the MW75-Neuro starting at $649. It’s only available in the U.S. and Canada at the moment, but Neurable says they are eager to expand to other countries this year.