New music streaming service hacks your brain to make you a better employee

new music streaming service hacks your brain to make you productive screen shot 2012 12 20 at 8 46 27 pm

Music is one of the great work day companions. Whether doing homework, blogging, or staring at a spreadsheet all day, we listen to music to fill that otherwise sonically-vacant space with something pleasing enough to inspire us to get some work done. One problem: It doesn’t actually make us any more productive. A new startup, focus@will, is trying to change that by introducing a streaming music service that encourages productivity instead of active listening.

Focus@will was designed with getting work done in mind, the culmination of two years of research and music curation that encourages concentration in lieu of distraction. According to CEO Will Henshall, the effect is creating a system for music not to be listened to.

“The idea of commercial music is that you listen to it,” Henshall said. “[But] this is not music for entertainment. This is something new. We’re creating a music service that specifically helps focus.”

To accomplish this, focus@will conducted studies on their patrons — work Henshall jokingly describes as, “sticking brain machines on people and seeing what happens.” What they found was that music interacts with the limbic system, the evolutionary center of the brain that controls the flight-or-fight response. In this case, the limbic system interrupts the concentration flow state in a typical productivity cycle.

The researchers found that instrument music — mainly jazz and classical music for the time  being — are particularly effective at quieting the flight-or-fight response. However, the team also discovered that instruments like the tenor saxophone and viola create similar interrupt responses in the brain because they resemble the human voice’s unique timbre. Complicating matters, instrumental music the subject already knows triggers a memory response that was also disruptive.

To counteract this, focus@will curate their own exclusive library of focus-friendly music while also commissioning and remixing the work of commercial artists to help build their system. Songs are then analyzed in their specially-designed cloud audio engine, which weighs the key, intensity, and emotional value of each track, arranging them in a way that’s both unfamiliar to the listener’s ear and soothes the limbic system so as to prevent an interruptive signal.

Henshall, a former member of British-based R&B group Londonbeat (unfamiliar? You must click here then), believes that the service, which is currently in private beta, will complement current music platforms. Will focus-enhancing tracks become a brand new genre of music? Stay tuned.

Music

Jam out in hi-fi style with the 25 best playlists on Spotify

Music is the world's most potent drug, and the best playlists on Spotify will make you catch feelings. We've scoured the service for its top collections, and brought them together in one place -- for you.
Gaming

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Mobile

Learn how to play YouTube in the background on iOS and Android

We show you how to play YouTube in the background with apps such as Opera, Chrome, and Firefox -- along with the premium offerings like YouTube Premium -- whether you have an Android or iOS device.
Computing

Getting Windows 10 updated doesn't have to be so painful

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.
Music

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.
Music

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Home Theater

Mobile masters: Tidal’s better-than-CD MQA tracks come to Android

Audiophile-grade music tracks and streaming music services don't come together very often, and when they do, it's not always easy to find a device that plays them. That's no longer the case as Tidal's MQA tracks now work on Android.
Mobile

From true crime to comedy, here's our list of the best podcasts around

When you aren’t in the music mood, podcasts can be your ear candy. Whether you love to stay up-to-date on the latest news or want to know what’s happening in sports, you’ll find something on our must-listen-to podcast roundup.
Mobile

Music junkie? Here are the 24 best music apps for consuming and creating tunes

We rummaged through the iOS and Android app stores to find the finest mobile music-creation and music-consumption apps in existence. No matter if you're on Android or iOS, here are the best music apps.
Home Theater

Mobile audio gets an upgrade thanks to new Sonarworks apps

Sonarworks is used by audio engineers around the world to get more accurate sound from their headphones. Today, the company launched Android and iOS apps for the same ability on mobile devices.
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? Try the best free media players for your local music

Rather than using music-streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Music

Tidal faces legal jeopardy over fake stream numbers accusation

In another challenging chapter for music subscription service Tidal, Norwegian authorities have begun a formal investigation into charges that the company faked millions of streams for artists such as Kanye West and Beyoncé.
Computing

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.