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Can Meditation Gadgets Reduce Your Stress in 2016?

Most Americans are not strangers to technology. Indeed, we tend to rely on smartphones, apps, and other gadgets to assist us with most of our daily activities. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, the new year has brought with it new gadgets and meditation apps that are aimed at reducing stress through meditation and other activities. But can consumers actually rely on newly developed apps to help them deal with stress? And can apps designed with meditation in mind truly provide information and a framework through which to meditate regularly, or are consumers who decide to purchase such apps and gadgets paying for devices that do not do what they promise?

Learning More About Meditation Apps and Gadgets

Since most of us know that meditation does not require any special devices or tools, why would a meditation gadget or app be useful? According to the article, it is difficult for those of us with busy schedules to devote regular time to activities like meditation, particularly when we are grappling with the demands of a full-time job and raising children. Given such time constraints, certain meditation tools might be able to help.

Although smartphones are, as the writer of the article notes, “the least-meditative, most distracting thing” in our lives, they might also provide a solution to reaching a meditative state despite life’s distractions. For instance, there are apps that “pair with electroencephalography (EEG) headsets to provide biofeedback for meditators.” What could such devices do? The headsets gather information about electrical activity emitted by the brain, which the app then interprets to let you know whether you have in fact reached a meditative state. As the article explains, such gadget-app combinations are “like fitness trackers for the mind: motivating tools that promise to take a lot of the guesswork out of meditation.”

What are some of these devices called, and where you can find them? The article lists a number of options, including but not limited to:

  • MindWave Mobile by Neurosky, which retails for about $100;
  • Emotive Insight, which retails for $659 but has additional sensors and is more advanced than other products in this category; and
  • Muse, a $299 headband-style product.

Does Meditation Technology Actually Work?

Of all of the products mentioned in the article, the author cites the Muse headband as the best value. It rests over the user’s forehead and covers the user’s ears. At first, users might find the device frustrating. Yet once you have used it for a number of days, according to Norman Farb, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, you grow accustomed to the Muse.

The device lets its users know that they have reached a meditative state by sending out bird-like “chirps”—small sounds that aim to keep users coming back for more. And once users have finished a meditation sessions, they get a score based on the state of calmness achieved.

But despite the potential growing popularity of such devices, numerous researchers do not believe in the legitimacy of these gadgets. For example, Dr. Richard J. Davidson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds “flat-out opposes the use of EEG biofeedback in meditation training.” According to Dr. Davidson, such devices simply do not make any sense from a scientific standpoint.

It can be difficult to know whether new consumer products, particularly those that engage with innovative technologies, have scientific legitimacy. If you have questions or concerns about a product you have used, an experienced Philadelphia consumer protection lawyer may be able to assist you. Contact Cohen Placitella & Roth, P.C. to learn more about our services.

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