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That Phone-y Feeling

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective ad campaigns and marketing ideas

Get your kicks from caffeine? Calm from camomile? A new consumer product that uses your smartphone could be set to change that

Transcranial direct current stimulation (or tDCS) might be a bit of a mouthful but it could be set to replace your morning cup of coffee AND post-work pint.

US-based startup Thync has secured $13m in funding to develop a range of products that harness tDCS - small doses of electrical stimulation targeting nerves that carry signals to the brain - as an alternative to traditional mood-altering solutions. This kind of electrical brain stimulation has more commonly been used to treat head injuries and depression, and to help develop memory in children with learning difficulties.

However, Thync founders Isy Goldwasser and Jamie Tyler believe their products - the first of which will launch in 2015 - will have broad appeal. The headband-like device features touchpoints on the forehead that are connected via a bluetooth to a mobile device. The user can then pick between stimulation (‘energy vibe’) and sedation (‘calm vibe’), as well as control the intensity of the electrical currents.

In trials, two-thirds of users experienced effects over and above the placebo, though many reported no effect at all.


Contagious Insight /

Neuroscience’s Wild West moment / ‘This might well be the technology of the future, but at the moment we are looking at the very early phases of research. It’s the Wild West of brain stimulation,’ Julian Savulescu, professor of practical ethics of Oxford University, recently told Bloomberg Businessweek. Contagious I/O has been reporting on how the amazing advances of neuroscience, including how they can be applied in marketing, for the past few years. Brain-powered music from a vodka-brand and an attention-powered car from an insurance company are just two examples of where neuroscience and marketing have collided. While our ability to explore how the brain works is growing, we’ve barely scratched the surface: beware snake oil merchants.

Drink's great disruptor / Speaking to one FMCG executive recently, Contagious discussed the continuing difficulties that the chewing gum category finds itself in. The executive traced its challenges to the start of the growth of mobile: gum is no longer the gentle time-wasting past-time of young people, their mobiles are. Could technology like Thync’s threaten the alcohol industry and other purveyors of stimulants and sedatives (legal or not)?



This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O. Contagious I/O is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious I/O contact