Mindset Update - May 2019
We made a lot of progress on our UI in may that we’re really excited to share!
Jacob Flood, June 4, 2019
This past month has been busy on both fronts, with the hardware team working on getting the tooling going and the software team working on our new UI. We’re really excited to share with you our progress.
The hardware team spent this month finalizing a few electronics changes, and negotiating the mass production terms with our factory. This negotiation is the necessary evil, to make sure that we’re spending your money wisely. This took longer than expected unfortunately – as a result we’re current expecting to receive the DV batch in July.
In parallel the software team has done some incredible work with the latest UX overhaul, bringing all the features together in a very seamless package. We also started 4 more neuro-adaptive music tracks, which will ship with the app. We’ve described the app UI thoroughly below for your enjoyment!
For the past while, the priority has been to do whatever it takes to get the DV units built as quickly as possible. This month, that involved two major priorities: finalizing the front-end electronics, and negotiating payment terms with our factory.
The electronics work has been ongoing for years – each month we’ve worked to improve our designs iteratively, and eventually freeze the parts of the design we’re confident in. With our latest prototype batch, we got the opportunity to test out the entire stack together: from electrode, to wiring, to electronics, to Bluetooth, and finally to computer.
This led to some interesting discoveries. First, we found that the power supply designed for the Bluetooth electronics was injecting noise into our EEG circuitry. We had to make some minor changes to this piece and updated our assembly guidelines to make sure that the digital and analog grounds minimize leakage between the two parts of the circuit, in order to mitigate this issue.
Second, we found that once fully assembled, the headphone speakers were injecting magnetic noise into the circuit of one of the ear cup electrodes. Luckily, we’d anticipated this potential issue - our solution was to change the placement of this component within the ear cup, in order to avoid this effect entirely.
Finally, we found that once assembled, the full stack – from electrode to digital – caused the circuit to behave slightly differently than in previous tests. We spent the remainder of the month updating the design and component specifications of the signal conditioning board – the part responsible for buffering and filtering the EEG signal before it’s digitized. We’re now confident in freezing this design, which we’ll be ordering next week in anticipation of the DV batch.
With electronics, you can never truly be sure of a design until you see it working in front of you. With the latest testing, we’re confident that this design will yield a clean EEG signal.
So far, we’ve been working with our factory on the design process of the headphones: making sure that each of the parts can be manufactured at scale, and can withstand the stresses of daily use. As we approach mass production, we spend this month negotiating the payment terms for the next stage: making the units.
This is a crucial part of the process. Without going into too much detail, the payment terms negotiated with our factory determine the cost, and payment timing for the units we’ll be producing. This has long-ranging effects on our ability to scale our production without extensive external financing. Suffice to say, this is not a process we were comfortable cutting corners on.
In parallel to this, our manufacturing partners have continued making preparations for the tooling, and the production of our DV batch. Given the length of the process described above, our current expectation for DV batch is that we’ll receive the units in Montreal in July, after a thorough review by the team in China.
For the past two months on the software, we’ve been undergoing a full UX redesign of our application.
When we launched the Kickstarter, we had in mind the list of features we wanted to include: audio feedback from the EEG, tracking focus levels over time, focus training, and muting notifications being among the core. This remained consistent as we focused the majority of our time on the signal processing & data science portions of the app.
Around September of last year – satisfied with where the EEG signal processing was at – we started prioritizing the UX of the app once more. The first priority was the audio feedback, which we saw as the core feature – this led to the invention of our neuro-adaptive soundscapes, which we discussed in a previous update. This has come a long way since then: we’re now on our third iteration of the soundscapes. We intend to launch with 5 infinite-length neuro-adaptive tracks, and we’ll continue to add more content over the months that follow.
In January, we started tackling the rest of the app: the dashboard for tracking your focus, the neurofeedback training for improving concentration, the onboarding, and the rest of the secondary features. While each of the features as a standalone sounded valuable, our app lacked a cohesive flow through which to manifest the functionality. Stated bluntly, our app was poorly designed.
We spend the last 3 months working with an incredible UX design team to build out our vision for this app. This process included several rounds of feedback with many of our backers (thank you all for the help!), several books on the psychology of workplace habits, and countless brainstorms of all kinds.
I’m really excited to share with you the design that’s come from all of our hard work.
Once you’ve created an account and completed the onboarding, you’ll be taken to the home page: your deep work dashboard.
Our goal with Mindset is to maximize and optimize the time you spend in deep work. Countless studies show that deep work – deliberate, uninterrupted, focused work on a single task – is the best state for getting your most important, creative work done. Unfortunately, due to the whirlwind of distractions both around us and in our own minds, we often go hours or even days without doing any deep work.
For this reason, every feature of our app will serve to help create a habit around deep work, and to make that work as productive as possible.
The deep work dashboard serves as your starting point. Here you can visualize the deep work you’ve done this month, and plan your next session. During the onboarding you’ll have the chance to set yourself a daily goal: how many deep work minutes you want to achieve each day – the deep work dashboard will become a reminder of that goal.
Starting a deep work session is as simple as putting on your headphones. This will bring you to the deep work page, where you can choose your session length, your preferred neuro-adaptive soundscape, and declare your priority for the session. All of this will serve as both a self-reflection prior to diving into your work, and as a data source for future insights.
Once you’re in deep work, you’re set: you can leave the app and get your work done. Mindset will provide the soundscape to help you get your work done, while tracking your focus and app usage in the background. While you’re in deep work we’ll also mute your notifications, so you can focus on what matters in the moment.
When your session is over, you’ll get the chance to review your data, tag the activity you did that session, and celebrate the amazing work you just completed.
Once you’ve been using the app for a while, we’ll start to populate the stats page with insight about your sessions. You can view your sessions over weeks and months, see which apps you use most frequently, and any other insights we’ve found about how your focus changes with music, time of day, and task. Over time, this page will become a bank of insight into how you work, from which you can learn to improve your habits around deep work.
For the extra ambitious among us, the training page will provide another way to improve your focus. Short, ~10-minute neurofeedback sessions will provide a way for you to train your brain to facilitate better focus. Whether in the morning before you start work, in the evening before you leave, or after a deep work session, our neurofeedback training will be a great compliment to your deep work.
These protocols are taken directly from the literature, which demonstrate that over time neurofeedback training improves attention, and lowers distractedness and other ADHD-like symptoms. We will continue to add additional protocols as time goes on and the field advances for improving stress and creativity.
Finally, the app will include an learn section. This will be populated with blog posts, book summaries, academic articles, podcasts, and other relevant media that discuss productivity habits, deep work, self-improvement, and focus. This will serve as a resource for our community to discuss how Mindset helps their work habits, and learn new strategies to optimize our focus over time.
We’re really excited about how this design turned out. We think we struck a great balance between providing insights and data – through the stats and learn pages – while also minimizing the effort required on days when you need to get shit done. Our priority is that Mindset integrates into your daily life and adds tangible value from the start – we think that this design achieves this.
We’d love to hear your feedback! Are there any features missing that you expected? Does anything you saw blow you away? Do you have any recommendations for changes with V2? Let us know in the comments below!
That’s all for now!
Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments, and let us know what you think about the app. We’re working on implementing these changes into the alpha version as we speak, so any feedback to guide our developers is appreciated!
We’ll keep you posted with pictures of the hardware production as it moves along on social media and here on our blog. Until next time!
Lots of love,
- The Mindset Team