Imagine if you could go through every moment of your life with a set of electrodes connected to your head that track your brain’s activity, sending you feedback on your level of focus, the frequency with which you became distracted, information about your stress levels and mood, and all sorts of other actionable data about the inner workings of your mind. You could use thisinformation to help yourself become a more relaxed, focused, clear-headed, and decisive human being. The only drawback would be the complete lack of human interaction you would enjoy given the fact that you were walking around with electrodes strapped to your head.
Ah, but now imagine if instead of electrodes, you could gather real-time information about your brain activity simply by wearing a pair of sunglasses. With Smith’s Lowdown Focus glasses on your face, your brain waves will be actively detected at the bridge of your nose and just above each ear, because, y’know, those are the places where glasses touch your face. The sensors placed in the bridge and arms of the Lowdown Focus glasses transmit brain wave activity to your phone, and using a paired app — appropriately called the Smith Lowdown Focus App (available for Apple and Android devices) — you can track your mind’s focus, or lack thereof, as you do everything from meditation to marathons, product development to practicing the piano.
After a series of initial learning sessions, you can set up a regular training regimen that is tailored to help you meet your goals, be they enhanced focus, revitalizing relaxation, better athletic performance, and beyond. When you can see what your brain is doing while you are doing something, you can, with time and dedication, learn to focus your energy and attention more fully into the activity. Or so the thinking goes, anyway.
After using a pair of Smith Lowdown Focus glasses for a few days, I’m half sold on them. Now, I readily admit I’m not a great person to comment on a product that asks you to sit quietly and focus inward, as the glasses/app do in the initial learning phases. But that’s rather what made me a perfect candidate to test these things. I tend to write for an hour, then bounce out of my chair and flit about the house completing random tasks, then sit down for five minutes, then get up again, then work for two hours, or maybe 15 minutes, and so forth. My schedule can be erratic and my attention scattered during many days. Thus there was a good chance I was going to get an unfairly negative impression of this system by not really giving it my true attention and effort.
That wasn’t really the case, though. I found myself readily able to settle into the training sessions, sitting calmly and quietly for their duration and following the various prompts closely. After each session, though, when I checked the data, the app told me I was actually “focused” for about a third as much of the time as I thought. I was apparently “neutrally” focused for most of it, and unfocused for much of most sessions too. Where I had thought my mind was centered on my breathing and my thoughts rather clear, mostly these glasses are telling me I was more scattered.
Frankly, I wasn’t much bothered by the data. The fact is that, while completing each session, I felt relaxed, focused, and clear-headed, and after each session I was able to embark upon the next to-do task with renewed drive. I have not seen any appreciable impact on my thinking at large just yet — the expectation is that I should see a better attention span, more ability to block distraction, better stress management, and more — but I have enjoyed the sessions I’ve thus far completed enough to keep using my Lowdown Focus glasses for now. If I end up with a quicker, clearer mind at all times, that’s great. If I just spend a few minutes now and then living calmly in a present moment, that’s fine too.
The Lowdown Focus will cost you, though. Each pair retails for $349. The glasses are available in two sizes and three colorways.