Technology can affect your mood, as anyone who's ever stared at a depleted smartphone battery can tell you. But a new wearable device from Thync takes things one step further by directly altering how you feel.
Thync's wearable — a module you attach to your head with plastic strips — sends electrical pulses straight to your nerves. The result is "similar to the relaxing sensation of a massage or the invigoration of splashing cold water on your face — only more focused," the company claims on its website.
If that sounds a little wacky, here's something even wackier: Thync just might be onto something.
I had the chance to take Thync out for a test spin. I strapped the module onto my head, and used a companion app that let me choose my settings and monitor my progress. Thync has two main modes: Calm, which relaxes you, and Energy, which is intended to give you a little pick-me-up. The device ramps up for 30 seconds, and you start feeling the effects. The process is painless — or at least it should be — despite the electricity flowing through your body. Each vibe lasts between 5 and 20 minutes, and at the end, you're supposed to be a changed person.
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I don't know if I was changed, but I certainly felt some effects after using the Thync device. At the end of a long day at the office, I used the Energy mode, looking for a little boost. After a 10-minute session, I felt light and positive. I think the electricity even gave me the drive and energy to fix my notoriously slouchy posture and sit up straight.
Thync lets you choose your own intensity level, though it suggests you keep the power between 60 and 80 percent. Anything above 64 percent in Energy mode gave me a little too much discomfort. The company says that if you feel any pain, you're doing it wrong.
While it's possible that my sudden energized feeling could be the result of the placebo effect, there's real science behind the sensation. Earlier this year, the journal Nature published a peer-reviewed paper about transdermal electrical neurosignaling (opens in new tab), the technology that Thync uses to reportedly change your mood. The scientific study and its results explain not only how the tech works to alter how you feel, but also that it's safe.
Calm mode seemed to work as Thync intends it to, at least in my time with the device. I used it before bed a few times, and I definitely felt sleepier as the process progressed. It's certainly a completely different feeling from the Energy vibe, and for some reason, I could handle up to 84 percent power without any pain at all. Unfortunately, the Calm vibes often ended with the unit slipping off my head, which may have something to do with my apartment being a little toastier than my office and my head being sweatier as a consequence.
Aside from the occasional head slippage, the big hang-up with Thync could be the price. The module costs $300 and includes only 10 adhesive strips. After that, you'll need to pay $20 for a pack of five additional strips. At that rate, the cost of Thync can add up quickly.
Cutting-edge technology can be expensive, though. With no other products offering electrical neurosignaling to people like you and me, Thync is in a unique spot. The company is also continually adding value to its product; just this week Thync rolled out new modes on its app: Workout, Zen, Holiday Bliss, and audio-guided vibes. If Thync manages to convince people of its value, it could be on its way to becoming something people will want to use as an alternative way to perk up or down.