We’ve written about Thync here before: the device that aims to alter your mood by applying electrical charges to your head. It’s a fascinating product concept but it also raises a lot of questions, not the least of which is whether or not it actually works as intended. Another question is whether or not there are any unintended consequences of the technology.
While the company has performed tests with thousands of subjects,we now have a first-hand report from Kira Peikoff, a reporter for the New York Times. She got a chance to test the latest version of the device, trying its “calm vibes” mode. According to her article, Thync has altered is approach to “transcranial direct current stimulation” (tDCS) technology. Instead of trying to affect the brain directly with electrical currents, their engineers are now working to stimulate nerves leading to the brain in order to create the desired effect.
Soon into my 20-minute demonstration, I feel a sharp, slightly painful tingling above my eye, like vibrating pinpricks. I brace myself, awaiting relaxation. After 15 minutes, I feel a mild tightness in my head, though the tingling sensation has abated. I’m not floored by sudden calm, but my breathing has deepened.
Peikoff points out the need for rigorous scientific testing of such devices to make sure that they actually have the intended impact. According to her report, tests to date have not been well designed to provide objective results. She quotes another tDCS researcher who says “I do think it’s a bit early in the game to be putting this rather untested and unknown technology out there as a kind of big societal experiment.”
It may well be too soon to know whether Thync — and products like it — are safe and effective. The company’s website indicates that the product is still scheduled to launch this year, so we may get the opportunity to find out for ourselves before long.