Embr Wave will cool you down or warm you up at the touch of a button

The MIT-designed body thermostat makes sure you're never too hot, or too cold

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Alphr Kickstarter of the week: Embr Wave

As a great philosopher* once sang to a pumping dance beat: “You're hot, then you're cold, you're yes then you're no.” Katy Perry probably wasn't offering a Nostradamus style prediction about the release of Embr Wave, but our Kickstarter of the week would provide a wearable solution to the literal take on the problem she describes.

One touch of the wrist, and your body is tricked into believing it's slightly warmer or cooler – all without bugging your housemates by fiddling with the thermostat dial.

* Your mileage will almost certainly vary

What is Embr Wave?

Designed by MIT-trained scientists, the Embr Wave is a wearable that's literally like no other. Rather than taking calls, delivering electric shocks, counting steps or just telling the time, Embr Wave promises to act as a body thermostat: warming you up, or cooling you down with a single press.

Of course, it's not a boiler/air conditioner unit: that would be both expensive to operate, and would eat through batteries like no portable hardware since the Game Gear. Rather, this tricks your brain with direct conductive heating or cooling on the skin. You know when you have a hot drink in the cold and you feel warmer? It's a bit like that.

It's “We were frustrated by always being too cold in a laboratory with too much air conditioning,”, Embr Wave's David Cohen-Tanugi tells me via email. “After winning the MADMEC competition at MIT, we received hundreds of emails from people who are perpetually bothered by temperature when everybody else is comfortable. Since then, our project has been backed by Bose Ventures and Intel Capital.”

“When you activate a warming or cooling session, Embr Wave changes temperature on your wrist, delivering waves of thermal relief for 3-5 minutes, which is usually long enough for you to stop thinking about the temperature,” he continues. “Embr Wave is powered by a rechargeable battery, and lasts 25 sessions or more on a single charge.

“Our main challenge was to develop a product that would provide powerful enough sensations of warmth and cold in an attractive wearable form factor. In order to do this, we had combine disciplines as diverse as biomedical engineering, product design, mechanical engineering, psychology, and neuroscience.”

“Attractive,” is of course a subjective viewpoint – but when I ask if the bulkiness of it could be reduced in future iterations, I'm met with disagreement that it needs it. “We're proud of how much we've been able to shrink down the technology, and we think customers will like it too.” Fair enough.

Why should I care?

Maybe you don't right now, but next time you feel a bit too chilly because the office air conditioning is on too high (my Alphr colleagues definitely know what I'm talking about), then you'll definitely long for something like this on your wrist.

And even if you don't, you have to say that this is the kind of madcap, outside the box thinking that Kickstarter was made for. Bravo Embr Wave.

How much and when would I get it?

Of course, admiring the inventiveness of something and stumping up cash to be the first in line to have one delivered are two very different things, and the price may be a bar to some interested parties. Right now, you can get an Embr Wave for $219 (~£167) – that's 27% off the final retail price ($299 or around £228).

By backing this tier, you'll also get the Embr Wave two months before everybody else. September 2018 is the estimated delivery date, so you'll just have to sit tight for another year.

Is there anything else like Embr Wave out there?

Frankly, no. Yes, you could warm your hands on a hot drink when it's freezing, or rub an ice cube on you when it's too hot. But crucially, the former stops you from doing anything else, while the latter is likely to get you very strange looks in the office and is prone to creating a desk puddle.

How risky is backing Embr Wave?

As ever with crowdfunding, there is no such thing as a guaranteed product. The end result may not be what’s promised, might never see the light of day, or might disappoint in another way. Only pay what you can afford to lose.

That said, this is about as sure a thing as a Kickstarter campaign can be. Not only has it raised $472,233 at the time of writing (“We reached our goal for the campaign within the first three hours, and we had tripled it by the end of the first day,” says Cohen-Tanugi), but the prototype is already done, and several testers and reviewers have already got their hands on them. “The Wave is a lovely thing to have on your wrist,” writes Drew Prindle at Digital Trends. “I didn’t realise how soothing it is until I took it off for a few hours, then found myself craving that chilly sensation on my wrist. I dare say it’s mildly addictive.”

“We’ve already built an assembly line and tooling for Embr Wave with our manufacturer in Changping, China,” reads the Kickstarter page. The available evidence suggests that, despite this being the team's first Kickstarter campaign, this is about as safe a backing as you can give.

Back Embr Wave on Kickstarter

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