Wearable devices are the latest trend in technology. Companies across the industry are scrambling to put sensors into everything, and connect all your stuff to the Internet. Fitness and health are among the more popular categories, with watches and fitness bracelets selling in the hundreds of millions of units.
Yet these devices are mostly the same. They feed you data about how far you've walked, how many calories you may have burned, how fast you ran or that you've been idle too long.
The goal is simple: Make you work.
The Apple Watch, for instance, vibrates when you've been sitting still for too long to get you to walk around.
One company, however, is looking to improve your health but not make you work any harder.
That company is Thync, which was founded by scientists and engineers with decades of experience in neuroscience.
Their first product release aims to increase (or lower) your energy level on demand through electrical stimulation.
No jogging, walking or yoga required.
Thync's product that uses low-power electrodes attached to your head to provide therapeutic electrical impulses they call 'Vibes' in order to alter your energy level.
The System consists of the main module, containing the processing unit and battery, a set of adhesive electrodes, and a smartphone app.
Found Jamie Tyler has a PhD in psychology and behavioral neuroscience, having spent over 20 years studying the brain's response to electrical stimulation. He's found that non-invasive brain stimulation has been proven to be safe in medical settings, and that the time is now right for mainstream wearable technology that delivers this benefit.
He's probably right, as for years there has been a maker movement around bringing this scientifically proven technique to home users. Called the Transcranial Direct Electric Stimulation (tDCS for short), makers have been cobbling together systems using a 9-volt battery and 40 dollars’ worth of spare parts from Amazon for years.
Whole communities exist online to make such machines. People use them to enhance memory when studying for tests, to improve their mood, to relax or get a boost of energy.
Yet the maker community lacks the scientific rigor Tyler is bringing to the market.
The FDA has cleared it for use as a wellness device, which means that it does not treat any specific medical conditions, but is considered safe for use by the general population - something that definitely cannot be said for the DIY blueprints currently available online.
Using Thync couldn't be much easier. You stick the electrodes for either Energy or Calm on your temple and behind your ear, and choose your desired time and power levels on the smartphone app.
Targeted pulses of electrical energy then hit your forehead and scalp, are either energizing or calming you. The voltage and length of the pulses were tested in a lab setting to be better than a placebo.
Launched on June 3rd, the Thync System retails for $299, with refills of Energy and Calm strips running $20 for 10 of each. While at the high-end of the wearable market, its also possibly the most effective device out there. It actually does something for you rather than make you do something for yourself.
While the first generation of Thync is undeniably a revolution in terms of how we think about computer-human-health interaction, future generations will fundamentally change the way we live and work.
The company is working on specific applications, such as to improve memory function and as therapy for depression. While it wouldn't disclose such plans, only generally saying its looking at other applications, these areas are some of the most popular of the DIY tDCS crowd.
Over the next five years you can expect to see these devices fly off the shelves, as people look to gain an edge at work or school or generally just feel better.
It may even lead to the first digital drug, which provides the high of narcotics through simple, gentle and safe electrical currents.
Their first product is now available at thync.com to U.S. customers.