MindLights

It’s out of the box.

I’m going to start by making it clear that the MindLights is different to any other AVS device I am aware of. For it and any like it that I may review in the future I would like to introduce the category “Computer Tethered”.

The MindLights plugs into a USB port on a computer (PC or Mac) where it appears as an 8-channel audio output device. Stereo plus six distinct control channels! There are separate channels for left and right audio, left and right red, left and right green and left and right blue.

In the lockable aluminium case there’s the light visor, USB stick with the software loaded, Panasonic headphones, manual and, get this, a bundle of wet wipes to keep the unit hygienic.

The visor is surprisingly light for its size yet seems remarkably robust. I’m guessing that the silvered outside is thick Mylar while the white inside diffuser feels like styrene – plastics well suited to the purpose. The two layers, between which live the LEDs and controller, is tidily assembled with black high density foam and leather-look trim. The visor is comfortable. The forehead pad in conjunction with the adjustable elastic headband provide for optimal positioning of the visor.

A USB cable exits from the bottom left, while at the bottom right there is a standard 3.5mm headphone socket. You’ll notice in the picture that the cable is bundled with a strap – the strap is made of the most catchy-grabby species of fine velcro-like material that I have encountered. If you intend to use the supplied headphones, or dedicate headphones to the MindLights, the strap can do a fine job of shortening the headphone cable and attaching it to the USB cable to minimise cable tangle. I’m not sure where I saw it, but the suggestion for wearing the headphones and visor is to put the headphones on around the neck first, then put on the visor and finally position the headphones over the ears – if you do this and remember to take the gear off in the reverse order all will be well, especially if the cables have been strapped together .

The MindLights is controlled by Mindfield’s MindLights software.

When MindLights software is launched you are offered three options (this screen can be disabled for future launches in favor of the Generate, New and Load buttons on the main screen). Mostly self explanatory except for the Generate option which is a very capable session wizard. Generate leads the user through a series of dialogs…

The session types included are Deep Relaxation, Sleep Better, Improve Your Mental Power, Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly, Training of Concentration, Training of Learning and Memory, Tinnitus Treatment, Relaxed Attention/Peace of Mind and Meditation/Hypnosis, all with supporting documentation available.

Background music – any MP3 or WAV present in the Music folder of the MindField MindLights application folder when the editor is started will be included in this list. Files can be loaded from other locations via the Music Editor once the session has been generated.

See below for Customization options.

If Customization is selected at Step 3 the following options are offered, making easy the creation of rich and vibrant custom sessions.

Note that flashing can be switched between alternating and and synchronous at any time throughout the session – a rare feature.

The Breathing Aid provides a breathlike sound every however many seconds desired for your inhale/exhale cycle. This can be changed later in the main editor.

Now, to the editor itself…

It is good, very good. The background colours identify the beat frequency while the points indicate the primary and secondary LED colours. Clicking on a point brings up its settings…

Both primary and secondary color can be set from the standard Windows/MacOS Color Picker. The color rendition is good. Effects ranging from high contrast (above) to flicker (below) can be easily achieved by choice of colors.

The lines joining the points are referred to as “transitions” and clicking them opens up another collect of settings…

The Visual Properties tab contains all that is required to create mind-blowing visuals. The light modulation can be sine (sinus), triangle or square (rectangle) and this setting can be applied to all or any of the colors. Symmetry alters the primary on-time relative to the secondary on-time – pulse width control. Phase alters the primary turn-on time relative to the secondary turn-on time – zero results in left and right flashing synchronously while 180 gives left/right alternating flashing.

You will have noticed the Preview check box on all of these dialogs – every setting can be auditioned as you go.

The Acoustical Property tab offers the choice of binaural, monaural, isochronic or pulsed beats or no beat at all. An interesting distinction is made between isochronic and pulsed beats which I generally consider to be interchangeable – isochronic beats are full on/off (100% depth) while pulsed beats can have there modulation depth altered. Phase adjusts the temporal alignment of audio and visual stimuli.

The last set of controls, Background, offers white, pink, brown or no background noise.

Apart from the light and noise settings you can include any audio files you wish via the Music Editor – MP3 and WAV are supported.

You can use as many sound files as you wish, with start, end and fade times set with the dialog that pops up when a track name is clicked.

After clicking the Start button you are offered a startup delay – time to get the headphones and visor on and to settle down before the session begins. You can also choose to have the session editable during playback – another rare feature.

So, what is it like?

Another obvious difference to other devices is the full wrap-around visor – the lightshow is fully immersive covering the full visual field. There’s a video here… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDteU1u89p0 that gives a bit of an idea, but the insipid patches of light shown completely fail to do justice to the bright, even display seen when wearing the visor. The MindLights is primarily an open-eye design and in this mode the brilliance and range of color is unsurpassed. With the  frequency set to zero near perfect ganz feld can be obtained which, if so desired, can be made to transition smoothly through any and all of the possible colors. Closed-eye use is fine, quite bright enough, plenty of emergent complexity and with color good but maybe not as intense as with LEDs aimed straight at the eyelids.

The audio provided by the integral USB “soundcard” is good even with substantially better headphones than those provided. I must make this point – the audio is not pass-thru as in most devices, but is a soundcard in its own right, visible in Control Panel/Sound (Windows) as Speakers MindLights Device, etc. If you finish with the MindLights sounds from any other application, such as MediaPlayer, will be heard through the MindLights headphones – unplugging the MindLights or changing default device in Control Panel/Sounds will restore usual sound output.

Installation is no problem at all. Follow the instructions – load drivers off the USB stick before plugging in the MindLights! The drivers only install for the USB port that the MindLights is plugged into at the time of installation – using a different port requires a fresh install.

The MindLights doesn’t support AudioStrobe. At present there is not a lot of content available but this will change. The editor is a pleasure to use, so I expect many users will add lights to their own favorite MP3s and, once there is an appreciation of just how beautiful the visuals are, I expect commercial developers (like me) will get in on the act.

There are a few minor issues, trivial really, that MindField are working on. The only point that may matter (being investigated) is that the MindLights might not get along well with other USB audio devices – I have to turn off my M-Audio Fastrack Pro to run the MindLights. This may be more a problem with the FastTrack as it is a bit temperamental anyway. Latest release software and manuals can be downloaded from here… http://www.mindfield.de/en/products/mindlights/mindlights-mind-machine-software.html . The editor doesn’t require that the MindLights visor is connected so you can have a play with the software before buying the device. There is a lot of good information regarding the research that supports some of the protocols offered.

Summary…

If you don’t require AudioStrobe and you don’t mind being tied to a computer (minimum specification Intel Atom 1.2GHz, 1Gb RAM, 1024×600 display and 2 USB ports under Windows XP, Vista or 7, 32 or 64 bit or Apple Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, 10.6 Snow Leopard or 10.7 Lion) then this is the device for you. Cross platform support is yet another rare feature.

The manual is clear and direct. There is information on the function of the various rhythms that is correct and conservative. You will notice, in both the manual and the software, literary evidence of the German origin – quirky and may raise a smile, but in no way detracting from the accuracy and usefulness.

In the “PC Tethered” category it is an obvious winner – it has no competition just now and any newcomer will have to be pretty impressive to oust it from the lead. In the “Overall” category the open-eye visuals and excellent software place it comfortably in the top four (Best Standalone – Procyon, Best MP3 – Laxman, Best AudioStrobe – MicroBeatMini). Each member of the Top Four has unique features that distinguish it from the others eliminating any correct answer to “Which is Best?” – the answer is the one that has the feature critical to your application. Of course, in a perfect world, you would have all four.

The MindLights has earned a place in easy reach – I really, really like it.

Cheers,
Craig

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Comments

  • Andy Owings  On September 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Craig. I am debating purchasing either the Laxman or the Mindlights. I dont at all mind being tethered to the computer and aesthetics play no part in my decision making (although the Laxman does look sleek!)…Consciousness exploration will be my primary area of focus. I became interested in the Laxman through Lionheart on the Astral Pulse and they seem to be working very well for him…thanks for any help. Andy

    • CraigT  On September 14, 2012 at 8:41 am

      Hi Andy,

      Both units work well and provide a pleasing experience.

      If being attached to a computer isn’t a problem and you’re not using it anywhere that wearing a full reflective visor might be deemed odd then the MindLights delivers the better full colour open-eye visuals.

      Neither unit supports AudioStrobe so most commercially availabe content cannot be used. NeuroProgrammer/Mind Workstation have no direct means of providing light controlled sessions.

      The Laxman editor is easier to use than the MindLights editor however the latter provides superior light and sound control, making software such as NP or MWS largely redundant.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Craig

  • Andy Owings  On September 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks, Craig. This is great info and much appreciated. As I said in another comment, I did go with the Laxman for the ease of use and travel…because I will be travelling a lot over the next year or so. But based on what you have to say here about the mindlights…I will definitely purchase it after I have had a nice go with the Laxman. Many thanks, Andy

    • CraigT  On September 15, 2012 at 8:45 am

      The ultimate compromise is the no-compromise of having it all :) It sound to me as though you’re in danger of becoming a tech-toy junky – enjoy!!!

      Cheers,
      Craig

  • Kike  On September 15, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Is this machine really effective for tinnitus?. I have tinnitus from 7 months ago, and my procyon have just broken. The procyon hasnt help me, with the tinnitus using almost every day.

    • CraigT  On September 15, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Hi Kike,

      It is a tested protocol, as per the reference (17 chronic tinnutus sufferers). I haven’t used it for this purpose so I can neither confirm nor deny the usefulness. As the proposition is based on the idea that regular deep relaxation helps tinnitus sufferers. The MindLights is then sufficiently interesting to encourage regular, long term relaxation practices. On this basis any deep relaxation technique should be effective.

      I hope you find relief.

      Cheers,
      Craig

      • Kike  On September 15, 2012 at 6:52 pm

        Thanks for your help

  • Kike  On November 1, 2012 at 10:07 am

    What
    machine has better visuals with closed eyes, procyon or mind lights?. How long Is the USB cable from the mindlights?

    • CraigT  On November 1, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Hi,

      They are different. A device with LEDs directly pointed at the eyelids seems to give stronger optical patterning which can lead to stunning secondary imagery while a diffuse light tends towards more subtle “secondary” imagery. In either case there are always other factors – ambient light, device brightness, etc.

      The USB cable attached to the MindLights is 1.5m.

      Cheers,
      Craig

  • Kike  On November 1, 2012 at 10:52 am

    So the mindlights are very good for opening eyes, but not so good with closed eyes. Then this machine are more for entreitament, because closed eyes are more effective for meditation, relaxing, and altered states of conscisness. Am I right?

    • CraigT  On November 1, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Both excellent devices that will fulfill all purposes. When eyes are open there will be beta activity, when closed alpha will dominate. I tend to use relatively gentle visuals for meditative purposes anyway, as anything that startles will cause SMR+ activity. Realistically, it is far more practice than tools that will bring results. No particular AVS device will be any more compelling in the “realms of higher consciousness” than any other.

      Cheers,
      Craig

  • Tinnitus  On January 27, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your
    blog with my facebook group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thanks

    • CraigT  On January 27, 2013 at 11:57 am

      Sure, thanks. I appreciate such interest and I hope your readers find something of value.

      You may have noticed a piece of session generation software I wrote, BrainForm, that has an incidental effect of helping with some types of tinnitus. Its available free on request, however it is supplied without support and can require the download of some additional Windows system files to run.

      Cheers,
      Craig

  • Kike  On January 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Hello Im interesting in the software for the Tinnitus. I suffer tinnitus since may 2012.

    • CraigT  On January 28, 2013 at 6:57 am

      Hi,

      I’ve dug up the discussion on the Transparent forum from when I first offered Brainform – you’ll find brainform.zip attached to one of the posts. The thread also includes the discussion on how to make it work on some systems. It has worked fine on a couple of Win 7 machines that I know of..

      http://www.transparentcorp.com/community/forum/topic/4215-proshi-emulation/page__hl__brainform__st__15

      For tinnitus it is most useful at comfortably high volume. It will, of itself, leave the ears ringing a little, but I found that soon afterwards the tinnitus was diminished for a few days. I believe the type of tinnitus it is useful for relates to the crystals on the nerve endings referred to here http://brainconnection.positscience.com/topics/?main=anat/auditory-path2

      Please note that I have no medical qualification and the observation that tinnitus was improved by this program was entirely incidental to its intended purpose.

      Cheers,
      Craig

  • Sidara  On August 21, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Craig. I have the Laxman, Procyon, & David Delight Pro. I am in awe of the Laxman’s visuals and to now find this Mindlights product that appears to be like a full-face Laxman…I am incredibly intrigued and am forcing myself to not just purchase it instantly.

    But I cannot seem to find on the Mindlights website or in its manual how many sessions it comes with. I’m also wondering if the audio sessions are more like the Laxman (diverse with ambient sounds, chanting, etc) or more like the Procyon’s. I know it has great software for creating sessions from scratch, but I’m not into that. I believe it looks like you can easily customize a session by clicking a few options, but in that case do the binaural beats sync with the lights for a unified session and the correct effect? Or might I end up with a chaotic session that wouldn’t be useful, or worse, detrimental?

    I’m also wondering if you feel its sessions, whether pre-packaged or customized, are effective/accurate for their stated intent (beta, alpha, etc). I find the Procyon sessions to be extremely effective in this regard.

    Many thanks for all of your posts, your site has been an immense help.

    • CraigT  On August 22, 2013 at 8:57 am

      Hi Sidara,

      Any half decent session with relatively simple beat structure and nothing too intrusive will provide valid stimulation. Beyond that effectiveness is far more subjective, dependent on personal state and tastes.

      The MindLights software is unlike other similar in that it truly generates whole sessions – the range is effectively limitless and it is highly oriented towards inclusion of your own music. The visuals are very good.

      In view of what you already have and what I know of the future it would be worth waiting a while before acquiring any more hardware.

      Cheers,
      Craig

    • Derek Bernier  On August 25, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Hi Sidara, I currently have a Mindlights that I want to sell at a very reasonable price and is in like absolute new condition. If you are interested shoot me an email Derek@BernierRealty.com and I’ll give you any info you would like on it.

      • Sidara  On August 26, 2013 at 9:37 am

        Waaaa Derek I went ahead and ordered one on 8/22, otherwise I would’ve loved to have purchased yours. :(

  • Derek Bernier  On August 25, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    BTW Craig, The session of yours that is on there is absolutely beautiful. You definitely have got some awesome skills! I love the Quattuor app too and can’t wait to see the new stuff you are working on.
    Take care,
    Derek

    • CraigT  On August 26, 2013 at 8:28 am

      Hi Derek,

      Thank you :) There should be quite a bit more of my material floating around in the next couple of months.

      Cheers,
      Craig

  • KevinB  On August 30, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I’ve purchased this unit and tried to run it on Macbook Pro (Mountain Lion 10.8.3) and the software is very buggy. It blows up and fails to run anything other than the provided demo sessions. The MindLight s/w is ver 1.3. There is newer version 1.4 but this one does not even install and kicks out an defective file error message. So if you are going to use this on Mac you may be in for a disappointment. I have contacted Niko at MindField but have not received a reply yet. My MindLights may be heading for a very quick return to vendor :-))

    • Sidara  On August 30, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Kevin: I recently received mine & tried to run it on two different Mac laptops (one running 10.6 and one running 10.7). On both laptops I tried each of the Mindlights software versions 1.3 and 1.4. No joy. Then I tried it on my brand new iMac, and it won’t work on that either.

      I emailed the company several times & received zero response. I shipped it back already, I was pretty disgusted with this item in all regards.

      Craig was right in the first place in that I do have all that I need, anyway. The Laxman is just insanely gorgeous and with music tracks that come with the sessions are fantastic. This is by far my favorite ‘experience’ machine. I also really like my David Delight Pro and am having fun messing around with the CES on that, and of course there is the Procyon which is great, too.

      I can attest to the fact that the customer service from the David Delight Pro’s and the Procyon’s companies is fantastic. I didn’t have any problems with their products, I just had some questions, but I was able to reach someone immediately and they were immensely helpful. I haven’t attempted to contact the Laxman folks.

      I wasted a lot of time trying to get the Mindlights to function (not happy) and at $500, the thing should work without any issue whatsoever. Massive fail.

      • KevinB  On August 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm

        Thanks Sidara… Very disappointed to hear that you had tried 1.4 and it was a bust. I was hoping that once I got a software download of 1.4 that was not corrupted that I would be in business. I am sending it back. Where did you get your Laxman? I am looking for something that works open eyes as well as closed eyes – and that gives me a perfect ganzfeld. It seems like the Laxman would be the next best thing to the MindLight. I had a David Delight (which I liked a lot) but it did not work so well for me open eyes. I did like the CES but don’t turn it up to high or you get some stinging in your ears :-)) But maybe you already found that out!!!

      • Sidara  On August 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm

        I have not used the David Delight Pro aside from the CES, yet. I don’t wear the glasses when I’m doing it.

        If you can’t tell already, I’m in love with the Laxman open-eye visuals. It even has incredible closed-eye visuals. I purchased it off of Amazon from the third party seller “Marks General Services”. I received it in two business days. You can also order it from the manufacturer Neurotronics, but it would ship from overseas. I’m sure that there are other sellers in the USA but I do not have any experience with them.

        I watched several of the youtube videos for the Mindlights, and while I was really excited to try it, I didn’t see that they were better than the Laxman. The Laxman goggles are able to blend color patterns in really fantastic ways. Of course, this is only what I could ascertain from youtube, but I will be surprised if you aren’t happy with the Laxman’s Ganzfeld visuals. Just be sure that you do not bend them!

      • CraigT  On August 31, 2013 at 12:37 am

        Hi,

        An alternative to using the proprietary software is to use a Digital Audio Workstation with the right plugins to drive the MindLights as a standard -channel audio device – 2x Audio + 2x RGB. I recommend MuLab 5 Free from MuTools, for which I have written Mux presets that drive the MindLights beautifully. The downside is that these sessions ate best played directly from MuLab – the exported wave files are huge – about 4 times the size of an Audio or AudioStrobe file.

        Cheers,
        Craigv

  • Niko Huebner-Kosney  On August 31, 2013 at 4:05 am

    Hi,

    this is Niko, CEO from Mindfield. We may have a corrupted archive for Mac uploaded to our server, that probably explains that version 1.4 is not installing/running on Mac. We will reupload it on monday and test again. Version 1.4 is tested well on Mac OS X 10.7 and 10.8 and we do our best to have every Mac customer satisfied.

    Best Regards
    Niko

    • Anonymous  On December 21, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Dang! Craig I just bought the kasina on the 18th of December, picked one day shipping but it won’t arrive till 23rd or 24th. I assumed kasina was the best new thing from reading the transparent forum, mind place as well. I truly hope the kasina is worth the wait and money. Full immersion is damn seductive! I.e. The mindslight. Maybe in time I’ll get both. That micro sd on the kasina looks exciting! Uber portability finally, hopefully some of the mindlights ganzfields can be duplicated. Looked at the spectrastrobe editor in mindworkstation and it looked impressive. By the way, this is methos. Fare thee well!!!

      • CraigT  On December 22, 2013 at 8:03 am

        Hi Methos,

        Good to hear from you. Yup, Kasina is where it’s at right now. When the eye-open glasses design is finally chosen and open-eye is available there will be nothing to touch it – the open-eye with the prototype I have is beautiful.

        Have a look at MuLab too – that and MWS, ++wow!

        Hope your new toy arrives in time!

        Cheers,
        Craig

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