Muse S Meditation Headband Teardown

Welcome back for another teardown! This time I’m taking apart the Muse S meditation headband. This biofeedback wearable sends sensor data back to the app to help inform the audio experience during its meditation or sleep sessions (iOS/Android). Thanks to David Cranor for lending his EE expertise and to Lumafield for the 3D scan.

Tools used in this teardown:

You can get supplies for your own teardowns, as well as some of the chips in the Muse, at Digi-Key, my sponsor. Check out this project on their project site Maker.io.

As is my routine for teardowns, I reached out to the maker to ask for a sample device, and this time they said yes! Muse set up a discount code for my audience–use code BECKY at checkout for 10% off your own meditation headset.

If you’ve been following my work for some time now, you may remember I’ve also taken apart Muse’s first headset a few years ago. The Muse S isn’t the new version of that, it’s a different product designed to be softer for sleeping. Hence the S. There is also a Muse 2 that is made of harder materials and is a more direct iteration of the Muse 1.

My Muse S arrived in a bubble mailer, with very nicely designed, albeit a bit excessive, smooth paper and cardboard packaging. I’m sure some nice folks spent a long time making all this. It seems like it should all be recyclable, although there are some magnets comprising the box closures. I think you’re meant to keep one of the boxes anyway, to reduce the oxidation that can happen to this type of conductive fabric in the open air. I think it’s silver-plated, and silver tarnishes quite easily. Another clue is the anti-tarnish paper that’s included in the box with the band. Even without the logo, I recognize that stuff from my silver jewelry-selling days.

The main circuitry lives in a hard plastic enclosure that attaches to the band with magnets. The band has two hard plastic protrusions that house these magnets as well as the electrical contacts connected to the fabric sensors. There is a hole in the headband for the optical heart rate monitor, so it can see your skin. The device charges over USB and has a sleek LED display along one edge.

When you put it on, the app lets you know the signal reliability from all of the sensors before each meditation or sleep session. The trickiest ones for me were over the ears since I had to move my hair out of the way to make a good connection. Since I don’t find earbud-style headphones very comfortable, I was glad the soft headband is compatible with my big soft headphones.

The app has several biofeedback audio experiences to try, where the sounds are informed by your brainwaves. Here I’ve got my microphone inside my headphones, so you’re hearing what I’m hearing. Smokey tried it too, with the ambient music soundscape. Neither of us frequently meditate, and we both got pretty chaotic sounds while filming, but I was able to experience more range in the soundscapes when alone and not on camera, and it was super interesting to try this device out. I can say that I enjoyed some audio environments better than others, especially for trying to sleep.

Before I took apart my Muse S, I sent it off to be CT scanned by the folks at Lumafield. They graciously agreed to scan another teardown gadget for us, so we can see the insides in their intended state. The scan is public if you want to explore it yourself!

The plastic enclosure popped right open, without breaking, and the circuit is secured with just a few bits of tape and a single screw. The LED effect is achieved with some light pipes that sit up against a few side-emitting surface-mount LEDs.

I was able to remove the entire circuit assembly without breaking anything. It’s actually three separate circuit boards connected with flex PCB material.

Since the circuit came out so intact, I got to thinking I might be able to put this thing back together again, so I was careful in the way I opened up the headband. I used a seam ripper to remove the stitches from one edge and took a peek inside. There’s a flex PCB sandwiched in between layers of foam padding.

ComponentManufacturer and part number and/or markings
1150mAh Li-ion batteryGreat Power GSP061621
2Photodiode5010 VB37296
3Oximeter/heart rate sensorAnalog Devices/Maxim Integrated
MAX86140ENP+
(markings 8614 0ENP K 047)
4Battery charger ICAnalog Devices/Maxim Integrated
+MAX 77651B EWV
TAF K 108
5Unknown – USB controller?SH [QR CODE] 141
6UnknownK33
7Arm Cortex-M4 MCUST Micro L452RCI6 7BA6D 9R PHL 109
8UnknownST Micro K193 Y121
9UnknownST Micro K1G Y102
10Bluetooth modulePRD601 2013877 [QR code]
11Chip antenna
12Unknown28E 16 18J

Lumafield has added this scan of the Muse S to its public repository, so you can explore the device in 3D for yourself!

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