I’ve been keeping an eye on fNIRS based projects and products over the past couple of years and in the commercial space it’s still quite limited, the only product of note is the Mendi band. When it came out I think the price point looked fair and it seemed to have a lot of potential.
What I’ve noticed over the past year though is that they have gradually over-marketed it instead of focusing on updates to the features available and the actual technology. There are some very strange marketing tactics, one example is the comparison they have with Muse, which comes up even if you just search Mendi in Google by itself, in fact even if you search for Muse it comes up so they’ve spent some serious SEO time and money showing this:
I’ve been critical of the Muse band in places before but almost everything in the comparison table on Mendi’s website is wrong I think and missed out some pretty critical differences. I’ve added some notes here with the table recreated and added 2 key rows that differentiate the 2 products:
For me, Mendi goes over the line with claims about improving mental health too – yes these devices could help potentially but not to the extent they claim, there’s just way more to it then that, a ball game isn’t going to fix everything.
Also strange is the video responses that they’ve put out via affiliated influencers in response to criticism of the device, this is one from Dr Cody Rall:
They shouldn’t have bothered with this because it just reinforces all the issues that Drew Gooden highlighted, I'm not convinced Cody addresses any of the bigger problems. Original video is here:
I do not recommend purchasing a Mendi band for anything other than curiosity. They will either have to extend the software by adding more apps or exposing the raw data in an API, or they should focus on an updated product that can do more. They’re still in a great position to move on and improve given that there isn’t anyone else in the market with a similar system and they've by now got a good user base.
fNIRS is still a very powerful approach to better resolution of brain activity. For those interested in open source projects, there are a few out there but the clearest to me is HEGduino:
A few video series I found useful if you’re unfamiliar with the fNIRS:
For a more concise overview this is very good also: