Thync's Wearable Won't Just Measure Your Mood, It Will Fix It

Vinod Khosla and others bet $13 million on Thync’s mind-altering technology

2 min read
Thync's Wearable Won't Just Measure Your Mood, It Will Fix It
Illustration: Randi Klett

What if you could strap on a wearable that could adjust your energy level, stress level, or ability to concentrate directly, without requiring you to lace up your running shoes, suck down a cup of coffee or tipple a glass of vino?

You might not have to wonder for long because mood-altering wearables are in testing, and heading towards becoming a consumer product.  One of the first will be from a startup company, Thync, which announced yesterday that it aims to bring consumer brain-tweaking wearables to market.

Thync has been in stealth mode for three years; it pulled back the curtains on Wednesday, announcing that it has raised $13 million from Khosla Ventures and other investors, and intends to give other mind-altering substances like caffeine and alcohol some serious competition.

Thync says it is using “neurosignalling,” that is, a form of transcranial direct-current stimulation designed to shift a person’s brain waves in order to make her feel more energized or more relaxed. The company has tested the gadget, which goes on the head, not the wrist, on 2000 people to date. It has approval to do such research, but getting broader approval to put the device on the open consumer market may take a while.

Thync’s technology was developed at Harvard and Stanford; the company was founded by Isy Goldwasser, a serial entrepreneur who also founded Symyx Technologies, and Jamie Tyler, an associate professor of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University. Thync’s website doesn’t offer a lot of detail; it states “Thync Vibes are intelligent waveforms delivered via neurosignaling. You select Vibes on-demand for your shift to an energized, relaxed or focused state.”

Some have questioned the safety of brain-stimulating devices. I tried a prototype of one last year, a gadget called Focus intended to increase the focus of videogamers, and found the experience decidedly unpleasant. So I don’t think I’ll be an early adopter on this one; even when it gets to market, I’m likely to wait a bit to let the company work the kinks out of it. In the meantime, I’ll order a new pair of running shoes, grind some coffee, and keep the wine cellar stocked.

The Conversation (0)

Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

Keep Reading ↓Show less