With $11.6M, EEG wearable maker Interaxon goes after mental health professionals, corporate wellness

By Jonah Comstock
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Toronto-based Interaxon, creator of the Muse EEG-sensing headband, has raised $11.6 million ($14.8 million CAD) in a round led by Trend Forward Capital, Export Development Canada, and OMERS Ventures. Epic Capital Management and Bridge Builders Collaborative also contributed to the round.

Interaxon raised $287,000 for Muse in late 2012 and officially launched the product in 2014, one of a handful of consumer-focused EEG wearables entering the market around that time. Since then, in addition to its direct-to-consumer marketing, the company has made several enterprise plays. For instance, the company has an offering for mental health professionals that allows them to quantify and track clients' meditation habits. 

“Meditation has become a billion-dollar business, and Muse is unique in that it provides a hardware device with insight into brain activity to help consumers build a meditation practice,” Derek Luke, Interaxon CEO, said in a statement. “The ability to benchmark and measure progress has been particularly attractive not only to consumers but also leaders of corporate wellness programs, mental health professionals, and business and athletic coaches. With this investment, Interaxon is uniquely positioned to harness the potential of its brain interface into the consumer, professional, and wellness markets, creating a vibrant services-based platform positioned for growth.”

Interaxon plans to use the new funding to build out that clinical market, as well as a software as a service offering for corporate wellness. The company is also making Muse available to developers. Among other things, according to a release from the company, virtual reality researchers are looking at using the headband as a control mechanism for virtual reality experiences.

Interaxon also announced last year that it is partnering with Safilo, an Italian eyeglasses brand, to create glasses with built-in sensors, starting with sunglasses for athletes that include EEG, a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, a 3-axis magnetometer, a UV sensor, a temperature gauge, and a pressure sensor.

"We’ve been providing superior vision and safety through our market-leading goggles and helmets for more than 50 years and are excited to add cognitive training and conditioning to our offering," Thorsten Brandt, general manager of Safilo’s sports and outdoor lifestyle brands, said in a statement at the time. "Active consumers at all levels intuitively understand the importance of finding their focus, yet up until now, there haven’t been a lot of products that help you up your mental game. We believe our collaboration with Interaxon is truly unique and something our customers will love. This is a first in bringing together innovative products that beautifully blend technology, form, and style.”

Finally, Muse has also become something of a favorite of researchersused in brain research at more than a hundred hospitals and universities for studies of pain, PTSD, fatigue, and more — as well as mindfulness and meditation.