This Wearable Device Monitors Brain Waves

OP Innovations is currently offering the ReLax Kit, an affordable, two-component system that relays a number of factors about the wearer's stress level, posture and so on. It's not a medical device, but designed for mainstream, health-conscious consumers, and serves as the latest addition in a growing number of "quantified self" movement devices. The gadget's software is also open-source, opening the door to even more possibilities.

To use the ReLax, users connect the sensor into the controller, and then plug the device into any USB port or charger to recharge the sensor's battery. Once that's done, the sensor can be placed on the person's forehead and held on by a flexible silicone head-band. It then wirelessly feeds data to the controller which relays the results to the wearer via four multi-color LEDs. Red indicates that muscle tension is detected, orange for mental tension, green for low-level mental tension and blue for calm and relaxed.

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The idea for this application is to calm yourself to the point that all LEDs are green and blue by relaxing facial muscles and reducing wandering thoughts. The company reports that users can "enhance" this experience by downloading and installing -- along with a USB driver -- the ReLax app which provides training sessions for entering into a relaxed state.

"The basic principle is quite simple: stresses manifest at physical (muscle tension) and mental (brain activity) levels," the company states. "By measuring muscle activities (EMG) and brain activities (EEG) directly, we can get [a] good indication on whether we have achieved relaxation. Any facial muscle that's not totally relaxed, will contribute to a small but detectible EMG signal signatures that are quite distinguishable from brain activities."

The sensor is suitable for measuring EEG, ECG/EKG, EMG signals, capturing motion and posture activities, as well as environmental electromagnetic pollutions (EMP). The technical details include proprietary low-power ZigBee (2.45 GHz) TDMA wireless signal transfers with extended RF range, a rechargeable LIR1220 button cell battery offering around 16 hours on a single charge, a built-in 3D (XYZ) accelerometer for motion and posture capturing and so on.

The controller connects to the PC via USB for interactive or off-line bio-signal data transfer and battery charging. It has a rechargeable LIR2032 button cell battery with around 32 hours on a single charge, four LEDs for easy tagging and event markers and the ZigBee TDMA wireless component. The controller, USB cable, and sensor can be stored in a compact metal box for easy mobile transfer. There's also a dry electrode set, the flexible silicone head-band and elastic string.

The ReLax Kit costs arpimd $46.62 and can be purchased here. Additional technical information regarding this wearable tech can be found here.

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Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more.