If you live in a hot and humid climate like Singapore’s, you know the pains that come with it. On days when it’s scorching hot, you’ll be reluctant to leave your air-conditioned office or home to walk that 10 or 15 minutes to buy lunch. And if you do, you can pretty much count on perspiring pretty profusely. It’s just an uncomfortable experience all around.
For people who really don’t like the heat though, there’s this. The Embr Wave. It’s a bracelet that claims to make you more comfortable when you’re feeling hot, or cold. And after over a month of testing, I’ve found that it really does live up to that claim. With some limitations of course.
So, let’s talk a bit about how it works. The Embr Wave is a thermoelectric cooler, and it uses the Peltier effect, which basically means that when an electrical current is flowing between a circuit with two different conductors, heat will be emitted from one junction, while the other junction absorbs heat.
I’m not scientifically inclined, unfortunately, so I can’t explain it much better than that. But what it essentially does for the Embr Wave, is cool one side while the other side heats up. Let’s take a look at the bracelet.
On the side that touches your skin, there’s a ceramic plate which either cools down or heats up depending on which mode you set the bracelet to. That’s one junction. The other junction is the top face of the Embr Wave, and when you set the bracelet to cooling mode, this face heats up. If you’re using the bracelet in heating mode, this face cools down.
The bracelet uses a Milanese mesh strap, with a really strong magnet closure to ensure the plate won’t slide around your wrist when worn. The optimal location to wear the bracelet is with the plate touching the inside skin of your wrist, here. I wear it on my right wrist since I usually wear a watch on my left, but you can wear it on whichever wrist you prefer.
There’s an app that you’ll have to download to get the most out of the watch, but if you want to just get started, there’s a button on the top face, which allows you to turn on the bracelet, then select cooling or heating mode. Multiple presses on either side of the bar will increase or decrease the intensity of the mode accordingly.
If you’re not using the app though, the mode only lasts for three minutes. Touching the faceplate reveals how quickly it heats up. With a more intense cooling mode, the faceplate will heat up faster too. Once the unit gets too hot, you’ll be left with a flashing orange bar that indicates you need to wait for it to cool off before you can continue using it. Embr recommends wearing the bracelet without any shirt sleeves or jacket sleeves covering it so that it can cool down more effectively. I’ve found that it usually takes around 3 or 4 cooling sessions to get it too hot to use.
But how effective is it? Well, this isn’t going to help you if you’re having a heatstroke. It’s not a medical device, nor will it help you to adjust your body temperature. What it does, is more to trick you that you’re cooling off. Remember how you might have held a cold bottle of water to your neck after a long run and the relief the cold brought you?
Well, that’s the exact feeling you get when you use the Embr Wave in cooling mode. The bracelet delivered short bursts of cooling sensation in waves, and I found that it distracted me enough that I didn’t spend all my energy concentrating on how hot it was, or how unpleasant it was to be walking under the sun. I still started perspiring, of course, but the cooling sensation helped delay it a little.
What impressed me even more, was the heating mode. After a shoot outdoors, I was perspiring and went into a mall to grab a drink. While sitting in the mall, my perspiration dried up and I started feeling cold, even with my long-sleeved t-shirt. I turned the bracelet to heating mode, and within 30 seconds, I started feeling better. Again, it’s not that it warmed me up physically. But the sensation was similar to how holding a hot cup will make you feel warmer. There I was, drinking an iced drink and really, feeling quite cold, but with the press of a button, the gentle heating took my mind off it.
With the app, there are modes that allow you to choose from the 3-minute setting, a 10-minute setting, 30-minute setting and even an 8-hour setting that’s designed to help you sleep better through the night, either with gentle cooling or heating. In the 8 hour mode, the waves are spaced out even longer and are less intense, while the LED light bar is turned off to not affect your sleep.
If you’re not a fan of any of those, you can even create new custom modes with timing and wave sensation set to your preference. The bracelet can even sync with the app to let you monitor how long you use the cooling or heating modes.
There are a few downsides though. The first is that the bracelet is actually a bit bulky. Wearing it on the underside of your wrist means you’ll most likely bump the bracelet into your table, or end up resting your wrist on the bracelet.
The other is that it uses micro-USB to charge, and the charging port is actually in a pretty awkward location.
And finally, it’s pricey. There’s no way around it. This costs S$498, and that’s a lot.
For the general office worker, you might want to just adjust the aircon in your office instead of splashing half a grand on this. And of course, you can always purchase a handheld fan to help you cool off slightly when you’re out walking in the sun.
But if you want a cool gadget, and you can really see yourself using the Embr Wave consistently day in day out, it might be worth the spend. After all, we do plenty of things to keep ourselves comfortable and happy. For some people, this might just be the solution to their temperature problems.
More information about the Embr Wave is available at Embr Lab’s website.