“Welcome to a new generation of brain exploration,” says the front page of Squareeater, a free service offering audio-visual experiences called “squares.” The squares are described as “meditative devices” with names like “Chakra,” “Deep Down,” “Upper,” and “Strange Night.”

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Each square uses binaural beats and other unusual sounds to achieve brainwave entrainment — the fairly recent and not-well-understood practice of causing one’s brainwaves to fall into step with an external stimulus. What’s a binaural beat? It’s the pulse or tone created in one’s mind when the left and right ears hear two distinct tones that are very close in pitch.

Searching “binaural beat” on the Web will turn up many tracks, all of them characterized by two discrete pitches that can create the illusion of a third pitch (or beat) in the listener’s brain. Proponents say that binaural beats aid in relaxation, control over one’s mind, and even bring about altered states of consciousness, but very little research is currently available.

Squareeater’s visuals offer strobing colors and patterns that bring about a semi-hallucinatory state, much like the Dreamachine, Trip Glasses, and other strobe devices. You can even try them with closed eyes, letting the strobing lights filter through your eyelids. This produces a flickering ganzfeld (uniform field of view). The lack of detailed sensory input, combined with the rapid flickering between light and dark, triggers the visual cortex to produce its own colors and patterns.

Screenshot from Strange Night, "one of our more experimental 'squares'."

Screenshot from Strange Night, “a more experimental square”

With the visuals and binaural beats combined, the result is truly trippy, especially if you get fairly close to the screen, stare at exactly one point without moving your eyes, and turn the volume up on your headphones. (Because the two channels of binaular beats must be completely isolated, headphones are required.) I haven’t tried it while actually tripping, but damn, I imagine it’s intense.

Pick out a square, relax, and dive in! http://squareeater.com

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