This startup has created mind monitoring earbuds and it’s a good thing

NextSense earbuds

Don’t worry, your deepest, darkest secrets are safe; NextSense’s earbuds are designed to read brain signals, not your thoughts

Get ready to retire that sleep app you’ve been using and switch to something better. A startup under Alphabet’s radical and secretive innovation lab, X, has created earbuds that are basically miniaturised electroencephalography (EEG) machines.

Typically captured by placing electrodes on the scalp to read electrical brain activity, EEG signals are the key to understanding neurological conditions. Sleep monitoring is the function that may have the widest mass appeal, but NextSense’s primary aim is to advance the detection of epileptic seizures and other brain health issues.

Conventionally, recording EEG signals requires patients to be hooked up to a bulky EEG machine during sleep, which means an overnight stay in a clinical environment that, ironically, isn’t very conducive to a good night’s sleep. As such, data tends to be skewed and limited. Such elaborate monitoring set-ups also lead to increased costs for patients.

NextSense hopes to change all that by providing a solution that is portable and comfortable to wear, whether during sleep or at intervals during the day. Not only would the earbuds make brain activity monitoring easier, they also make more frequent monitoring possible. By combining the EEG data collected by the earbuds with environmental and behavioural data recorded by other smart devices, the startup believes that it may hold the key to more accurate trigger detection and earlier seizure detection.

Sounds good, and the medical community clearly agrees. NextSense has already raised US$5.3 million (S$7.2 million) in funding and has announced multiple clinical research partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies and universities.