Thync is a wearable device that is meant to impact your brain waves. In its release incarnation, it has various programs that are meant to make you either feel more calm, or feel like you have more energy. I wrote about my initial reactions to this neurosignaling device back in January.
I sat down with co-founder Dr. Jamie Tyler yesterday to give it a try and talk to him further about the science and thinking behind Thync. Here’s what I think.
The first thing you take away from talking with Dr. Tyler is how much thought he and the team at Thync have given this device. This is not some get-rich-quick scheme for Thync — this is the first step of what Tyler admits will be a long journey in improving people’s ability to communicate with one another.
How does a consumer wearable that wants to help people reduce stress (the “calm” vibe) or feel more energized and focused (the “energy” vibe) lead to better communication? Dr. Tyler sees it as a stepping stone along the path to technology that will be able to more directly manipulate or impact our emotions. Which in turn, he sees as improving our ability to communicate with one another.
The irony is not lost on him that he thinks the answer to our heads being too much down in technology reducing our ability to communicate with one another is, well, more technology. I’m not convinced of this long-term vision, but I certainly can see the application of the Thync app and device in its current incarnation.
The Science Behind Thync
Unlike many consumer wearable companies, Thync puts science at the front and center of its effort. It conducted safety studies on the device, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration it wouldn’t seek to regulate it (since it’s not claiming to treat any type of mental disorder or medical disease). They’re working on obtaining the UL seal, even though they don’t need to because they care about meeting the kinds of safety and quality standards one might expect from something that’s seeking to impact your brain’s neuroregulation.
So while a bit thin on peer-reviewed studies at the moment, the company has actually conducted a ton of research in-house (some of which is made available on its website). And it has peer-reviewed studies in process, and one in publication review. The one clear takeaway from talking to Dr. Tyler is that this is a company that understands the importance of a solid research foundation, and is actively working to establish such a foundation. (I covered more of the science and research behind Thync in my previous article.)
Trying the Thync
Like others who’ve written about Thync, I was given the opportunity to try the $299 device. I was given the Calm experience, which required the application of a customized, disposable electrode set to my forehead and the back of my neck. The device itself is a well made, curved piece of plastic that has the electronics and bluetooth in it to communicate with the app (which you can download to your smartphone). It’s small, but a little Borg-like.
But because the device needs to be attached with disposable electrodes (10 packs consisting of 5 of each kind of vibe will set you back another $20), you won’t have to worry about people wearing this at work or out in public. While the industrial design of the design is first class (engineers who worked on the design of the Apple iPod worked on the design of Thync), it’s not something you’d want to wear in front of others. And it’s definitely not as quick or as easy as slipping on a pair of glasses or headphones. Incorporating it into your daily work routine for a year will set you back another $600 in electrodes alone.
Trying the Thync doesn’t give you the sense that you’ll know whether you’ll benefit from the device in the long run. My experience wasn’t unique — Dr. Tyler said most people take about 3 sessions before they find the right intensity level that works best. As a nod toward gaining a more immediate physiological reaction, they’ve added a 5 minute program to the app — to help people experience the effects of the app and device more quickly.
I didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of calm or euphoria as was suggested I might. But I did feel a sense of… something due to the device. You definitely feel it working. But it would be hard for me — in a single, short sitting — to say what that was. Because of the experience being difficult to describe for first-time users, I suspect Thync has a long road ahead of it to convince folks to part with their hard-earned cash to give it a try.1
So as far as testimonials go, I’m pretty neutral about it. I felt something like “calm” vibes as a result of my experience with the device, but I wasn’t particularly stressed about anything when I tried it (and am a pretty low-stress guy to begin with).
Would I part with $299 for it? If I were a person who experienced a lot of constant, chronic stress in my life and didn’t find other effective methods for helping to relieve it, yes, I might very well plunk down my money for it.2 The research is pretty darned good for a startup, and it shows a lot of potential for future applications that go beyond just stress and energy.3
- The 30-day money back guarantee should help with this, though. [↩]
- Mindfulness meditation and/or relaxation techniques, once learned, can be used forever, however, sans any device. [↩]
- Put my decision into some context, though — I’m not an early adopter of technology; I nearly always wait for the second or third revision, which I feel is when most manufacturers — even Apple — get it right. [↩]