Wearables and other technology for meditation and well being

Joy Bose
10 min readJul 4, 2019

In this article, we look at some wearables and apps that can help in meditation and enhancing well being and happiness.

Meditation is as old as mankind. It needs almost no props, save a cushion, some instructions and an intent to meditate, and gives a ton of benefits ranging from increased happiness, stress relief, a better immune system, better concentration, enhanced quality of life and so on. Some might even say it gives insight into the nature of things as they really are.

We live in the technology age, where life is more fast paced than ever before and there exist a range of distractions. Many would say technology has made us more disconnected from nature and from the real world. However, technology can also be used as a tool for aiding meditation or enhancing the meditation and well being experience. I am fascinated by the number and variety of wearables available today that can be used for this, and more and better ones are sure to come.

Let us survey some of the available apps and wearables. There are many others coming up on crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but one should exercise caution when deciding which projects will deliver. Also, many of these wearables are for sale mainly in the US or European markets and ordering them from a country like India will incur some delays and additional customs charges. However, this should not deter one from ordering them.

Breath monitoring in Smartwatches and fitness bands

Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash

Apple watch, Fitbit Charge, Samsung Gear fit, Mi fit, Moov now are some of the fitness bands and watches available in the market, that have the ability to monitor pulse rate. Some of these, though not all, have apps that can help to relax. Fitbit’s relax is one such app.

Wearables based on biofeedback (biosensors), by monitoring the breathing rate

Journey to Wild Divine — the Passage Biofeedback Game (now become Unyte)

Biofeedback refers to completing a loop, with the person wearing a wearable giving feedback (in terms of changes in breathing, pulse rate, brain waves or EEG and so on) that helps to further tune the behavior of the wearable device. The breathing, pulse rate, skin conductance measurements are some of the things that can be measured easily by inexpensive sensors, and which can give an indication as to how relaxed or stressed a person is.

An example of a biofeedback based biosensor is the relaxation game based software from WildDivine (now called Unyte) such as Unyte Iom2, which uses a sensor for breathing rate and pulse rate to trigger different actions in a variety of games, with the aim of scoring more points as the person relaxes and the pulse rate becomes slower.

Dhyana meditation ring

There are many smart rings and other wearables available that measure the stress level throughout the day. Pip is a biofeedback device that monitors the conductance of the skin pores on the fingertips to get an idea of the amount of stress. Spire stone is a wearable that uses the breathing rate to measure and control the stress throughout the day. Dhyana is a meditation ring, also based on biofeedback of the heart rate variability, that can measure how well you are meditating.

Wearables based on neurofeedback, meditation by monitoring the EEG signals

Neurofeedback is the same as biofeedback, but applied to neural signals from the brain measured by EEG or electroencephalography sensors. EEG gives the aggregate of brain activity. One can measure different kinds of EEG signals such as alpha and gamma that correlate with concentration, meditation, and deep sleep. The EEG signals are communicated via Bluetooth to a connected smartphone, and the apps build on top of it. This is a fast growing field, it is scientifically proven, safe and has a number of relatively inexpensive wearables available in the market. Many of these wearables have available APIs to enable developers to create their own apps and games based on the EEG signals.

Emotiv Insight (taken from here)
Screenshot of the Muse app, which accompanies the Muse and Muse 2 wearables

Some of the popular wearables based on EEG are Emotiv Insight, Neurosky Mindwave and Muse headband, each of which come with a range of EEG based apps and games in the google play store and apple app store. Of these, Emotiv (EPOC and Insight) claims to be the most accurate and research grade and has the most number of sensors, but is also a little pricier than the others.

Neurosky Mindwave has just one EEG sensor placed on the forehead, is very lightweight and looks and feels like a headphone. It is the cheapest (or one of the cheapest) EEG based wearable available in the market and has a number of Android and IOS Apps and games, including apps to track how well the meditation session went.

Among these, Muse is the device most optimized for meditation. Muse has a number of guided meditation in its accompanying app and is based on a subscription based model. The original Muse only has EEG sensors, while Muse 2 uses a range of body sensors including EEG, pulse, heart rate and breathing to give a more holistic guidance for meditation and relaxation.

A number of other EEG based sensors are in development, being funded on kickstarter etc, or are entering the market.

Wearables based on t-DCS, to enhance calm and focus

Go Flow wearable to stimulate the brain and increase focus (taken from here)

Our brain has certain areas which are responsible for different faculties like focus and emotion and which when stimulated, gives rise to the appropriate emotions. Transcranial direct current stimulation or t-DCS is a technology that gives a small electric current to certain areas of the brain that help in enhancing focus, calm or happiness, as the case may be depending on the area stimulated. It is a relatively new field and has found to be generally safe, although this reddit page gives a list of how safe some of the popular tDCS devices are.

LIFTiD neurostimulation device based on tDCS

Thync is one of the tDCS wearables focused on enhancing calm and energy, and comes with an app that lets one choose the mood they want. Foc.us Go Flow brain stimulator is better for enhancing focus.

LIFTiD is another neurostimulation device based on tDCS technology, that increases focus.

Wearable to stimulate mystical experience: Shiva helmet or God helmet

The Shiva helmet , also called Koren helmet, God helmet or Shiva neural transmission system, is a helmet based apparatus that applies magnetic signals to the brain’s temporal lobes to stimulate mystical experiences. The website from where one can order the helmet, also contains a few research papers about studies on the efficacy of the helmet.

Shiva helmet or God helmet

Wearables to enhance lucid dreaming

Lucid dreaming refers to the state where the subject is aware they are dreaming in the midst of the dream. A subject in such a state can let their imagination run wild and do things they would not be able to do in waking state, such as fly. So it is an extraordinary experience.

There are some wearables that claim to make it easier to facilitate the lucid dreaming state. They consist of an EEG sensor to sense when the subject is entering the REM stage of sleep which is conducive to lucid dreaming, and then apply various means like give external stimuli (lights, sounds, or tiny electric currents) to enhance the probability of the lucid state. This article discusses the science in more detail.

Neuroon sleep mask (taken from here)

Some of these wearables include Neuroon open sleep mask, that uses EEG along with guided meditations, and Lucidcatcher that uses tACS technology similar to tDCS. Both of these are still kickstarter projects.

Meditation lamps

Breathe meditation lamp

Meditation lamps are devices that act as a visual aid by giving fluctuating lights in relaxing colors to synchronize with breathing.

Breathe is an example of a meditation lamp that acts as a visual meditation aid for rythmic breathing.

Meditation apps

Screenshot of the Headspace app

A number of meditation and mindfulness apps are available on the google play store and apple app store. Some are free, some work on a freemium or subscription based model, and give a range of guided meditations that help to relax. They are mostly based on someone giving meditation instructions through the smartphone app. The user can customize the types of meditation (such as mindfulness, loving kindness, insight, concentration, zen, yoga, etc), time of the session and other parameters in these apps. Some of the apps have progressive levels of meditation, gamifying the experience to encourage the user to pick up the skill and be adept in meditation in a relatively short time.

Some of the popular mobile meditation apps are Headspace, Calm, Insight timer, Buddhify, Omvana and the mindfulness app.

Headspace and Calm even have related meditation books that one can buy on Amazon.

There are also a few Yoga and Tai chi based apps available in the google play or apple store.

Wearables and apps based on sounds emitted at certain frequencies

Binaural sound technology uses different sounds from two microphones to give a 3D sound effect. There are a number of apps based on binaural sound, that claim to use binaural beats to produce deep relaxation.

Centrepoint’s Holosync is one of the technologies that uses binaural sounds to produce a relaxing experience.

Weltiss mind headset and app
Braintap headset

Welltiss Mind device uses a technology called Pulsed Electromagnetic Field or PEMF to perform a similar function i.e. emit sound at certain frequencies to enable the brain to synchronize and go in to deeper relaxed states. This can help for enhancing sleep, meditation, focus etc.

Braintap is another headset (with an accompanying app) that delivers light and sound pulses to the brain. It uses Binaural beats, along with other technologies such as light frequency therapy, to get the brain into a relaxed state.

NeoRythm is a gesture controlled headband that uses PEMF technology for brain stimulation. It claims to improve sleep, meditation, focus and pain management.

NeoRythm headband

Gratitude journals and apps to enhance happiness

Screenshot of the Bliss happiness journal app

Research has shown that expressing gratitude and remembering what we are thankful for can go a long way towards enhancing our sense of well being.

Many apps are available that help one to keep a daily gratitude journal or use other positive psychology tools to enhance happiness.

Some of these apps are Reimagining the examen, track your happiness, Bliss, and gratitude journal.

These apps are a great complement to any other meditation apps you may have, to fill in during the day or before going to bed. Daily reminding ourselves what we are grateful for and going through how the day went and positive experiences we had throughout the day can trick the brain into feeling happier.

Virtual reality meditation using VR (virtual reality) headsets

Using a VR headset By dronepicr — Sony Morpheus Virtual Reality Gamescom 2015 Cologne, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45111168

There are a few VR based meditation apps that can be accessed in any VR headset such as Oculus rift.

The VR headset provides an immersive experience that smartphone based apps generally cannot.

Isolation tanks and float therapy

Floatation tank (taken from Wikipedia) By Floatguru — Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22437716

Isolation tanks are not really wearables, but use technology to give a meditation like experience. The person floats in the tank, has a weightless experience and has all the senses shut off, giving a blissful and extraordinarily relaxing experience. These tanks are available in many cities across the globe, and can be searched easily on google. 1000 Petals in Bangalore India is one such place where one can access this therapy.


To conclude, as we can see there are a number of wearables and apps that use technology to enhance the meditation experience and sense of well being. They may be more useful to beginners, to those involved in sedentary technology or software work or to those who simply want a break from daily stress.

Still, some would say that nothing can substitute a good teacher and a good meditation sitting, for which such apps are not of much use. I suppose in the end both can complement each other: a regular meditation practice or extended meditation retreat can be complemented by such apps and wearables for daily use.



Joy Bose

Working as a software developer in machine learning projects. Interested in the intersection between technology, machine learning, society and well being.