Why Mindroid is a head trip

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© NextPit

Last week, a friend recommended I place my phone on my face and let it flash bright lights in my eyes while the speakers sang like digital whales. Clearly, this was not a recommendation to ignore. The app’s called Mindroid. Here’s what I learned from time inside the mind machine.

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These flash a lot directly into your eyes. / © ANDROIDPIT

Described variously as a digital drug, sleeping aid, and mind enhancer, auditory-visual stimulation is meant to influence your brain's behaviour, enabling you to access relaxed states of mind, creativity centers and even hallucinatory states. Inspired by a friend who watched a video in which Kurt Cobain talks about using an older version of the technology, I, a nervous explorer of the human mind, ventured an experiment.

The concept works just like binaural beats, which are an auditory illusion created by playing two tones at different frequencies, one in either ear. The separation of tones creates the binaural beat. For example, if, in my left ear, there’s a 240 Hz tone, and, in my right ear, a 270 Hz tone, then I have a 30 Hz binaural beat. When you listen to two tones like this, you don’t hear them as distinct sounds but as one tone, which fluctuates in volume or frequency, thus the illusion.

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Brain Waves is a binaural beats app that lets you generate tones to appeal to different brain waves. / © ANDROIDPIT

What binaural beats are supposed to do is stimulate relaxation, creativity, or any number of other mental states, by fluctuating in frequency within bands brain waves are measured in. Theta waves, for instance, which are linked to meditative states, fall in the 4 to 7 Hz band.

The scientific understanding of how, and to what extent, binaural beats affect the brain is hazy, but there is wide agreement that binaural beats do have some impact on the way our brains behave.

Mindroid works by presenting a similar experience but in visual form: lights are flashed in the user’s eyes at two frequencies.

I tried it out over several nights, hoping it might provide some post-work relaxation.

There are three preset programs available on the free app: relaxation, productivity, and meditation. I chose relaxation.

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Whale diving quickly went down to 0 percent. / © ANDROIDPIT

From the moment the program begins, you feel like a complete moron, laid on your back, lights pulsing violently into your eyes like a Clockwork Orange droog undergoing aversion therapy. Then the sounds begin - strange digital whale songs, intended to relax, but instead creating an ambiance of anxiety and alienation. The speed at which the lights were flashing made me feel nervous. It was generally an unpleasant start.

It was difficult to get over this initial period of self-awareness and fear, but the pulsing light, slowing to a more soothing tempo, began to lull me. It did start to feel strangely hypnotizing, although I never felt completely at ease.

Although the awareness of how strange this activity was did recede, it never left me. I suppose this is a shortcoming of my own, rather than the app's. Despite this, a moment or reflection upon finishing my session convinced me that I was more relaxed, and I determined to try the app again the following day, for verification purposes.

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Yes, I look like an idiot. / © ANDROIDPIT

Before I began my second session, I silenced the digital whales with a single finger, putting an end to their disturbing songs. I also knew now what to expect. My second experience was, therefore, automatically more enjoyable throughout, but I feel hard-pressed to say that Mindroid had an impact on me worth spending 20 minutes lying down with lights flashing in my eyes. 

Ultimately, I wasn't so keen to continue using Mindroid after my two sessions. Although I did feel more relaxed after using it, I wondered whether the effect was a placebo, or I was just telling myself I was more relaxed, or whether it was just because I'd been lying down after a day in the office. I also wondered whether any of this mattered.

Basically, I don't think my change in mood was any more appreciable than a good lie down is capable of achieving. The effect of binaural beats and other, similar methods of affecting brain waves is, apparently, very subjective, so maybe I'm just not an ideal subject. I do highly recommend you try it out for yourself and let me know how you get on.

Leave us a comment if you know any other apps that can help you relax, and share your experiences with us if you give Mindroid a go.

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  • Suzanne Suzanne Sep 29, 2020 Link to comment

    I bought the sleep mask and pro version of Mindroid. The lights flashing in the sleep mask are FAR TOO BRIGHT AND ALMOST BLIND MY EYES! It is far brighter than lying the phone on your forhead which gets uncomfortable and if you move at all it falls off. So much for relaxation. I sent 2-3 emails asking for help, my last message was to get a refund. They have not answered still and I doubt they will. Don't buy the mask - unless you want to spend time lining it with something. There is no way to reduce the brightness of the flashing lights in your eyes!! Don't buy this product is my opinion.

  • Vishal Shirsath Oct 9, 2019 Link to comment

    Dear friends,
    Well, I tried this app and used Meditation. I relaxed and turned on Meditation Programme with sound and flashing lights. It was a good experience.

  • Beati3 Dec 8, 2016 Link to comment

    I've been experimenting with the app for 2 days now. I'm using it with Google Cardboard and headphones as I don't have any cardiac issues or epilepsy. There's a warning for people with those issues not to use the app when opening it. I've found it improved my sleep considerably. I unlocked the app and used "Joyous Dreams" the first night and "Sleep" the 2nd. "Sleep" worked best, increasing my deep sleep, and making it so I didn't wake at all for 6 hours when I've been waking up after 3 for months. I fell asleep while I used it, and I had to wake briefly to get the headset and headphones off, but then I conked out straight away. Having the phone in the cardboard puts it a little way from your eyes, which is probably better than sitting your phone on your face. Works for me and I'll be experimenting with the other programs available. I give it a hearty thumbs up.

  • Matthew Young Apr 19, 2016 Link to comment

    I've been looking at this, but what bothers me is that you have to hold it on your face. That wouldn't be a problem if it was a quick "zap," but obviously that wouldn't work. If you're looking at a 10-minute session, that's 10 minutes of either holding your phone up or balancing it on your face. And they've got a sleep mask option, but instead of making it bluetooth, it's OTG; which means instead of charging your phone overnight, you've got the mask plugged into it, and you're sleeping with a cord running from your head to your phone. Sounds like it's just asking for trouble.

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    Deactivated Account Feb 27, 2016 Link to comment

    What about the phone radiation and heating , Does it hurt our eyes ? Anyway i will give a try

  • Elfyn Feb 25, 2016 Link to comment

    Brain Waves is a great app that I use every day. You do have to use headphones for it to work properly. For relaxing, I put on the alpha binaural beat and let it run in the background under a playlist of peaceful music and lie down for 20 minutes or so. This is very refreshing. At night, I use the delta binaural beat with relaxing music for falling asleep. I have trouble falling and staying asleep and this has been very helpful for me.

    I'm not too sure about the whole flashing lights, phone on the forehead thing, but I may give it a try just for sh*ts and giggles.

  • lianne john Feb 25, 2016 Link to comment

    Absolutely love the concept! seems worth the download:)

  • Jerry Rosser Feb 25, 2016 Link to comment

    Binaural beats are one thing but flashing lights are another because of the risk of seizures... Sidney Schneider designed a photic Brain Wave Synchronizer (BWS) to mimic brainwave states and it was taken off the market after it was cited in 1994 for causing epileptic seizures in a patient.

  • Peter Harwood Feb 24, 2016 Link to comment

    I've found six pints of lager help me relax never mind about trying to balance a phone on your forehead with flashing lights seems more of a arduous task instead of relaxation?

  • Albin Foro Feb 24, 2016 Link to comment

    Several states have legalized marijuana.

    • MadMike Feb 25, 2016 Link to comment

      Which they'll need once your Trump has been elected as President.

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