What we know about Thync’s brain-zapping wearable mood enhancer


On the 14th floor of the Prudential Center in downtown Boston, a startup called Thync has been quietly zapping the brains of more than 2,000 volunteers, refining a product that will relax you with low doses of electricity applied to your head.

Thync just raised $13 million from a group of undisclosed investors, and Khosla Ventures is among them. Here’s what else we know.

Thync has flown under the radar since they launched three years ago. It’s commercializing lab-built technology was first developed at Harvard University and Stanford.

The company’s technology uses ultrasound and electrical stimulation to give you a bit of a buzz. Literally. The Thync device zaps your brain.

Sorta. Thync won’t fully disclose what its product is. But let’s be clear, says co-founder Jamie Taylor: “It’s not a headset.”

This Thync Thing feels good. Also: It fits in your pocket. And will be on sale in 2015.

Thync’s engineers are packed away in San Francisco, but the “neuroscience headquarters” is right here in Boston. More than 2,000 people have tested the device in its Prudential Center offices, according to Taylor.

Some of Thync’s employees, Taylor says, have worn it all day long for about a year and a half. Taylor has tried it himself countless times. His favorite flavor: Relax.

“I tend to be more worry-free” says Taylor, adding that the effect lasts about 45 minutes.

There are two other settings on this Thync Thing and they are Focus and Energize. The company is calling its modes Vibes. Maybe it will be toggled by your smartphone.

Transcanial direct current stimulation, geek-speak for the technique of applying a light zap to your noggin, has been studied in labs for years. Lately, it has become the domain of do-it-yourself body hackers.

Some people have found the tDCS experience decidedly unpleasant. But others have found that it does wonders for their productivity and general state of awesome.

So far, Brad Stone at Bloomberg is the only reporter who’s had the device applied to his temples, but this reporter is in line.

Stay tuned.

Image: Flickr user Joachim Rotteveel

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at nidhi.subbaraman@globe.com.
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