After spending a week walking the showroom floors of CES, a wearable claiming to change your mood is probably going to activate your BS sensors. But today our demo of the Thync wearable was the rare CES meeting that's everything it's pretending to be – possibly more. Your neighborhood drug dealer might want to start looking for a new line of work.
The Thync has some similarities to TENS units (like those found in Chiropractor's offices), but instead of slapping pads onto your lower back, you place them on your head. It uses "neurosignaling" to either calm you down or energize you.
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As the company explains, "Neurosignaling uses electronic or ultrasonic waveforms to signal neural pathways in the brain. When specific pathways are stimulated, they trigger a shift in your state of mind or energy level."
Are your BS sensors going off yet? If so, we don't blame you. The technology world is full of stuff that sounds almost exactly like this, and most of it is about as authentic as Milli Vanilli.
But Thync works. During our demo with the Thync team, I tried the calming mode followed by the energized mode, and it was like drugs – minus all the bad stuff. More specifically, the calming mode was much like smoking a joint (minus the munchies, bloodshot eyes and memory loss). And though we were expecting the energizing mode to be similar to caffeine, it was more like the effects of Ephedrine (I used it a few times back in the 90s, before it started killing athletes, when it was sold over-the-counter). Rather than an antsy, over-caffeinated state, I found it to be more like a stimulated clarity – like a veil of fuzzy grogginess that I wasn't even aware of had been lifted.
Needless to say, reaching these states by sitting down with a couple of pads stuck to my head for 20 (calming) or 15 (energizing) minutes is a pretty amazing thing. There was no pain or discomfort (the team recommended I increase the levels gradually, which helped to ease the change in mood), and – best of all – the feelings lasted for several hours after the meeting ended.
Another interesting tidbit is that the two modes didn't seem to be mutually exclusive. I expected the energizing mode to pull me out of the calming mode, and it may have a little bit, but it's more like the two coexisted side-by-side. I walked away from the meeting feeling calm and energized – pretty much the ideal state for venturing out into the world.
We're fully aware of the potential for placebo effects in situations like this, but I adamantly believe that isn't what was happening (the company says it's done extensive testing that shows its product is far more than a placebo, and it links to academic research on the product from its website). I'll put it this way: if this was a placebo, then so was every recreational drug I did in my youth.
The team also noted that my speech slowed down and I took a more laid-back stance in my chair when using the calming one, and my speech sped up with more toe-tapping after energizing. They weren't making this up: once they pointed it out, I realized it as well.
As far as the device itself, it's a small head-worn contraption (because it's still a prototype, the company didn't allow pictures from our demo) that connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy. Sticky pads that stick to your head are connected to the device. You then use your wirelessly-connected phone to set the on-demand mode, and adjust the strength.
The company says the device is perfectly safe and doesn't have any side effects. I can vouch that there was no withdrawal, hangover or painful come-down period. If anything, it just left a craving (not unhealthy, as far as we can tell) to use it again.
Our enthusiasm about this product isn't hyperbole: we believe Thync is one of the breakthrough technologies to come out of CES this year, and a product to keep a very close eye on. Much like the Oculus Rift, you have to try it to really get what the hype is about. But once you do, you may be an immediate convert.
The company does say that different people respond to it in different ways, and some people will feel the effects more after doing it a second or third time (another similarity to cannabis). Some people, they say, don't report much of anything at all. I wasn't one of those people, but perhaps an easy full-money-back return policy would be appropriate for the launch.
Fortunately you won't have long to wait to get your hands (erm, head) on it. It's set to launch in 2015, possibly sooner than later. We don't know what it's going to cost yet, but we believe this is the rare product that could potentially change your life for the better. Though it isn't being sold as a health or medical device, this consumer product could be one powerful part of a multi-pronged treatment for depression, fatigue or drug addiction. Or, if you're like me, simply feeling better as you go about your day.
You can read more about Thync at the product page below.
Product page: ThyncView gallery - 3 images