Better sleep, reduced hangovers, motivated workouts, increased productivity, active start on a Monday morning – while all these are still persistent items in our ‘to-achieve’ list, Isy Goldwasser set off on a solution finding mode.
Result? She created the world’s first digital drug to alter a person’s mood!
Goldwasser’s Silicon Valley start up, Thync, has introduced a smartphone-controlled headset, also called Thync. This smartphone app-managed device is believed to alter its user’s mood at the touch of a button by stimulating nerve endings.
A confluence of neuroscience and wearable consumer technology, Thync claims to have the ability to zap the brain and make the user feel either calm or energized. All one needs to do is stick the small, triangular device onto their front temple. A second connected pad can be put on a spot farther back on the head. The location depends on whether the user desires a calming or energizing effect. Once set, a smartphone app allows the user to communicate with the pad using Bluetooth technology. The user can key in the intensity and length of the brain-zapping session.
The headset employs neurosignaling methods by using a type of transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) to stimulate the skin on the forehead and neck using tiny imperceptible pulses of electricity. This activates specific neural pathways, allowing users to dial up or dial down their stress responses and energy levels, thus creating a state of calm or a boost of energy.
Neurosignaling waveforms or vibes consist of precise algorithms that bias activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, so that one can enjoy a shift into a more energetic or relaxed state. The minimum time needed for the calming effect is claimed to be five minutes. There are three different energising modes as well, lasting either 5 or 10 minutes.
Thync conducted a study on 82 volunteers in the Boston area and found that a 14-minute session using its electrical waveforms resulted in significant stress reduction. At least 97 per cent of the subjects said the effects induced greater relaxation than other forms of treatment.
The company has filed two patents in the US (US8903494 and US9014811) describing a lightweight, self-contained and wearable transdermal electrical stimulation apparatus and method for inducing or modifying a cognitive effect in a subject. Specific examples may include relaxation, enhanced attention, mental focus, mood elevation, increased energy (e.g., physiological arousal, increased subjective feelings of energy), sleepiness, alertness, wakefulness, anxiety, stress, sensory experience, motor performance, formation of ideas and thoughts, sexual arousal, creativity, relaxation, empathy, or the like.
Although self-contained, the device can receive instructions from one or more remote systems (and may transmit signals to the same or a different remote system), including instructions that select or modify stimulation parameters. Stimulation parameters may include current amplitude, current frequency, pulse width, pulse duration, pulse frequency, pulse waveform, burst duration, burst frequency, off-time, and burst waveform, positive duty cycle, negative duty cycle, and on/off.
One of the most anticipated and promising devices showcased at the CES 2015, Thync is currently being marketed as a lifestyle consumer product, and not a medical one, so the device is not being regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Further the device is currently available only for adults and only in two modes: calming and energizing. While the U.S. is the first to enjoy this device, Thync is thinking of expanding its global footprint.
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