I’ve been covering a tech conference in Las Vegas called the Consumer Electronics Showcase for the past four days. It’s the biggest tech event of the year, and calling it exhausting would be an understatement.
That’s why I was particularly interested to see startup Thync’s demo.
The company’s pitch sounded like any CES attendee’s dream: a gadget that can magically alter your mood to make you feel relaxed and calm or energized and focused.
I had no idea what to expect.
Back in October when the company announced that it had raised $US13 million in funding from investors including Khosla Ventures, it was reluctant to share any details regarding the actual product.
The product I saw isn’t the final version in terms of aesthetics, but the technology is there. Thync says it uses “neurosignaling algorithms” to stimulate the neural pathways that lead to your brain. It’s apparently different than the EEG sensors found in headsets like the NeuroSky Mindwave.
During my demo, I tried Thync’s calm “vibe” first. I can’t say much about how it looks, other than that it consists of a device that sits on your temple attached to another part placed lower on your neck. Thync asked us not to include any images of the product since the design hasn’t been finalised yet.
Although the device was supposed to make me feel calm, I actually felt slightly uneasy at first. I’m not used to having a gadget strapped onto my right temple — and I had no idea what was being attached to my skin.
It’s an odd and unfamiliar feeling, but by no means was it unpleasant or painful. The calm vibe was subtle — it just felt strange to me at the time because I didn’t expect it. When the device is working, you feel a slight tingling in the areas where its resting on your head and neck. You can change the intensity of these “vibes” through an accompanying app.
I left mine at halfway just to get a feel for what it was like.
I didn’t feel much different when trying the calm “vibe” after about 15 minutes — probably because I was reluctant turn it up and make the sensation more powerful.
The energetic “vibe,” however, made itself known right away.
The tingling feeling was stronger in this version, but it didn’t bother me. In fact, I even turned up the intensity a bit after a few minutes. I certainly felt more peppy and awake than I did when I came in. I was more chatty and alert, similar to the way I feel after a cup of coffee.
It’s hard to say if Thync’s device definitely worked or if it I had begun to feel more energized because I knew I was supposed to. Regardless, the sensation lasted for about an hour after the demo had ended, so something seems to have happened.
When I initially spoke to the company in October, cofounder Jamie Tyler described it as a potential alternative to coffee or even alcohol. Thync says its device is totally safe and it’s currently working with the FDA to ensure its safety. Thousands of people have been trying out the product for months.
We expect to learn more about Thync’s mood-changing device when it eventually launches later this year.