Tag Archives: Music

In Internetland, Headphones Listen To You

Headphones traditionally serve as a delivery device, a conduit that brings sound directly to your ears.

A college-student created company called Musical Minds wants to make headphones smarter, capable of reading your mind.

“At Musical Minds,” says their About page, “we use innovative brainwave technology to show how each song you listen to changes the landscape of your brain in real time. Our unique algorithm then interprets these changes to create playlists that affect mood, focus, and motivation.”

The headphones, called “Trills,” are implanted with EEG sensors to track the listener’s brain waves as they listen to music. The requisite smartphone app will show the listener how  their brain reacts to what’s playing. The playlists, hooked up to Spotify, will be tweaked then to give you more of whatever music heightens your focus, your motivation, or whatever mood you might like to get into that day.

Or as the promotional copy puts it, the “mood app curates a playlist that helps you reach the emotional state you need, whether that’s carefree bliss or a good shower cry.”

“We’re actually redefining the end goal of listening to music,” Musical Moods co-founder and Ithaca College junior Jessica Voutsinas told The Ithacan. “You’re not reading a research paper on the theory behind music therapy. It’s actually working in real time, and we show you how it increases your focus, motivation, and mood. It’s not something you read about – it’s something you yourself are experiencing.”

Voutsinas told The Ithacan her “company’s goal is first and foremost to promote mental health wellness.”

That sounds all well and good, but the Musical Minds team still needs to answer some questions before Trills start helping music fans get a thrill.

For one, the app is connected to Spotify: music fans who can only get motivated by listening to Taylor Swift trash an ex-boyfriend will find no stimulus whatsoever, along with fans of Prince, Bob Seger, and King Crimson – though The Beatles are now an option on that service. Innumerable underground, independent, and unsigned artists will also be left out of the mood-change-via-music data revolution.

More importantly for those worried about online privacy – and who isn’t! – Musical Minds will need to mind that their service’s findings remain secure.

Why should you be afraid of your musical preferences getting out? In part, because if you’re not afraid, news people don’t really have any other ideas about how to get you to pay attention. Even scarier, imagine that Tipper Gore or someone like her who’s afraid of rock ‘n roll got hold of how your brain looks on death metal.

Do your serotonin levels spike when chain-listening to Slayer albums? Do vintage Ice Cube rhymes get your endorphins flowing? Can you sing of drowning your lover all a-smile? Well, then, the Surveillance State has got a cell for you.

Image courtesy of the Musical Minds website.