The Vibe Squad rolls through the glass doors like clockwork. They are a duo of smiles, glisten, and firm handshakes.
As I lead them to a private office where we won’t be disturbed, I can’t help but feel the outer edges of my paranoiac nerves bristle. This feels like something out of a science fiction film, and as a character in it, I’m not sure what the ending will be yet.
We settle into our chairs while Vibe Squad representative Audrey Orozco opens a leather satchel.
“This shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes,” she assures us.
I’m joined by my co-host and partner in crime Lisa Autz. Together we’re here to demo a product that has only just gone on the market. It’s a strange new technology three years in the making called Thync, and it can purportedly alter a user’s mood.
It’s a sleek design, an off-white triangular strip that’s small enough to fit snug in Orozco’s hand. She opens a package containing an adhesive strip and applies it to both her right temple and the back of her neck.
The Thync device is then attached to the strip and hangs suspended on her forehead. It looks like a costume excerpt Stanley Kubrick might’ve once dreamt up after one too-many drinks at the Korova Milk Bar.
“Why the right temple?” I ask Orozco while her partner outfits Autz and me with matching devices.
“We found that specific branch of cranial nerves are the most ideal to feed into the specific mechanisms we’re going to activate,” she says.
Activation, it turns out, is the key word here. Thync targets one of two nervous system centers in the brain that are responsible for handling stress. One of these is the sympathetic system, which is commonly associated with our “fight or flight” response to help regulate reactions to stress. The other is our parasympathetic center, which aids in a relaxed “rest and digest” mode.
The human body employs these nervous systems routinely–often bouncing back and forth between the two during the course of a single day. As Orozco explains, what makes Thync unique is its ability to specifically target these centers through a specific form of stimulation known as neurosignaling. In layman’s terms, neurosignaling amounts to the coupling of an energy waveform to a neural structure (a receptor, nerve, or brain tissue) to modulate its activity.
These specific neurosignaling waveforms (“or Vibes,” explains Orozco) consist of very precise algorithms that guide activity in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Using long-standing tDCS and TENS techniques, pulsed currents with low-intensity and high-frequency outputs are delivered through the module attached to the user’s head.
If all of this sounds pretty far-out, that’s because… well… it is.
“Your vibes are now synchronized; we’re ready to begin.”
Orozco hands me an iPhone with the Thync application open and displayed on the screen. There are two settings available to choose from: Calm and Energy.
Autz and I are instructed to select the “Calm” setting (there have been more consistent results with this one, we are told). I watch our iPhone screens transfer to a blue lit pinwheel, including different levels of intensity (controlled via plus and minus signs) and an adjustable countdown clock at the center.
Right now it’s counting down from 10 minutes.
“I feel like I’m becoming a cyborg,” laughs Autz. There’s a hint of anxiety in there.
Suddenly a thought flits into my mind.
“Is it possible to control another person’s Vibes remotely?” I hear myself ask.
“No,” she says. “They have extremely individual codes. Though I suppose if a hacker wanted to, they might be able to figure it out.”
A daymare of diabolical programmers sabotaging innocent brains rumbles through my own, but not for long. A peculiar sensation rips along my scalp.
“It feels like a cloud of ants are marching up and down my head,” I hear Autz say. I turn to gauge her reaction to such a bizarre pronouncement, but she’s smiling.
I can feel a tingling, but not much else. After telling the Vibe Squad, Orozco encourages me to up the intensity level using the app.
“Every user experiences it differently,” she encourages, while I increase the dial from level 62 to 70 (it runs in increments of two). “I’ve seen fully grown men max out at 60, and little girls go all the way to 90.”
By the time I hit 80 I can begin to feel a pressure growing in my right temple. It’s similar to the onset of a headache, although fairly mild in terms of discomfort. Orozco says that means I’ve reached my “maximum vibe” and that I should drop it down to 78 (my “sweet spot”). So I do.
By now Autz has slumped a little deeper into her chair. Both of her eyes are closed, and I can tell that her formerly nervous breathing has instead slowed and deepened considerably.
I won’t lie to you; I’m a pretty relaxed guy. I’m also fairly skeptical of products such as this that claim to control seemingly impenetrable aspects of nature. From the first moment I heard about Thync, I really didn’t believe it would have much of an effect on me.
But then I start to feel it. About two minutes in the head massage sensation is in full swing, but it’s also begun a descent through my entire body. The muscles in my neck and shoulders–a place where I tend to carry stress like gnarled tree roots–have loosened to the point of rubber. My guarded posture has become slack, my breathing measured and full.
I can’t help but admit that I feel a bit surprised. But it’s an admission that comes with a laugh.
Even after the 10 minutes comes to a close, I can still feel the warm thrum course through my body. It’s actually a mild euphoric high. The sensation isn’t overwhelming, like the feeling of cliff-jumping or eating ecstasy, but it’s quite pleasant–like drinking a digital glass of champagne.
Two hours after Autz and I wave goodbye to the Vibe Squad we’re still feeling ripples of calm. Maybe it’s placebo? We ask one another. Maybe so and maybe not. Either way, we both agree that it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
If we are moving closer to the world of science fiction, I’m ready to turn the page. Or maybe that’s just what I Thync…
To watch Zach and Lisa’s Thync demo in its entirety, tune into this week’s episode of Third Eye Weekly.