I’d forgotten it was cold inside until I picked up an aluminum laptop and it felt like ice. Then I noticed my fingertips and toes were freezing. It was weird, knowing I was cold yet not feeling cold. But that’s how the Wave worked best—when I wasn’t paying attention to it.
I’ve been wearing the Embr Wave for a while now, a watch-like wearable that sends waves of heat into the fleshy underside of my wrist during the dead of a New York winter, and releases pulses of icy coolness when an unusual winter heatwave has me sweating. It was a strange feeling at first, but I got used to it pretty quickly.
We can drive ourselves crazy over a few degrees. (At least I do.) I’m a thermostat control freak. I constantly tweak it during the day; up a degree now, then down a degree later. It’s not a good time when I can’t control the temperature. The discomfort ruins concentration, mood, and productivity. Wearing the Wave has surprisingly helped in those situations—all thanks to a few mind tricks.
I’ve previously written about how Dr. Hui Zhang, a research scientist at UC Berkeley, found that, on average, test subjects wearing the Embr Wave reported feeling 5.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer after three minutes on the warm setting and 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit cooler on the cool setting.
The independent study claimed that women often report feeling cold in the office because, typically, the office thermostat is set for men’s comfort. Women—who tend to be smaller and have a higher surface-area-to-body-volume ratio—lose heat more quickly. On average, women prefer temperatures five degrees warmer than men, according to a 2015 report by the Dutch Maastricht University Medical Center.
The Wave doesn’t actually change your body temperature. You wouldn’t want that anyway, since an adult’s body is programmed to run at a particular baseline of 97 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead, it only changes your perception of how warm or cool you are. The idea is that, in situations where you can’t control the thermostat or you left your sweater at home, the Wave will trick your brain into feeling warmer or cooler.
On the wearable, there’s a light bar you can touch to turn it on, adjust the temperature, and turn it off, but most of the Wave’s finer points of control are found in Embr’s app. There are four preset modes: Quick, Essential, Extended, and Fall Asleep. The former sends quick waves of cooling or heating over five minutes; Essential spaces out the waves a little more over 10 minutes; and Extended lasts for 30 minutes. Fall Asleep releases longer, gentler waves of heating or cooling over 35 minutes and mutes the LED lights on the Wave.
Embr Labs releases new modes through over-the-air software updates. While I was testing it out, they released Fall Asleep mode and the option to make custom modes, choosing the intensity and frequency of the heating and cooling waves as well as the runtime, from five to 60 minutes. Bumping up the runtime to 60 minutes was a great move as I’d been continuously running Extended mode back to back—no longer did I need to stop every half-hour and restart it.
To a Certain Degree
For heat, you choose a number on a scale of 1 to 16, with 16 being the hottest. I preferred the hotter end. Go big or go home, right? The Wave limits you by default to 13. If you want to jack it up past 13, you have to go into the app’s settings and give it permission to maybe burn you.
“You are enabling the highest level of heat, with a potential risk of painful heat sensation. If you are okay with that, please select ‘Confirm’ to enable this setting.” Boom. Confirmed. Now I was at 16.
This is mildly unpleasant, was my first thought as I tried t