The Embr Wave is a wearable that helps you stay warm in freezing-cold offices, or cools your off when it’s too hot — here’s what it’s like to use

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Embr Wave

  • The Embr Wave is a "personal thermostat" — a wearable you strap onto your wrist to help you feel more comfortable indoors.
  • Embr Labs says after three minutes of using the device, you can feel up to five degrees warmer or cooler.  
  • I tried the Embr Wave for a few days, and found that it helped me feel more comfortable when I was overheated, or shivering in a frigid office. 

Working in an office these days is an exercise in personal temperature control. 

One minute, you’re sweating it out after your commute on public transit, or even just the walk into your office. The next minute, you’re shivering in the arctic temperatures dictated by the thermostat. 

That struggle is what inspired the team at Embr Labs to create the Embr Wave, a "personal thermostat" you wear on your wrist. 

The Embr Wave works by heating or cooling on its own, depending on your needs. The idea is that, with the press of a button, you can feel more comfortable in your environment — in fact, Embr Labs says after three minutes of using the device, you can feel up to five degrees warmer or cooler.  

"Temperature is as much subjective as it is objective," Sam Shames, CEO of Embr Labs, told Business Insider. "Heating a building is like setting the temperature of a shower for hundreds of people." 

It all comes down to skin temperature. When you’re feeling cold, your core body temperature doesn’t actually change, but your skin temperature does, Shames said. Putting something warm against your skin will provide some relief and make you feel more comfortable in your environment.

Sweatshirts in the summer

The idea behind the Embr Wave originated in a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013. Shames — along with his cofounders, Matthew Smith and David Cohen-Tanugi — were so cold while working in the lab, they were bundled up in sweatshirts in the middle of the summer.

Embr Wave Cooling

They came up with the idea for Embr Wave and submitted to the Intel Make it Wearable competition that October. From there, their story blew up.

"We started getting emails from people all over the world who said that temperature was the biggest problem in their lives," Shames said.

By 2017, Embr Labs had launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising $630,000 — more than six times its $100,000 goal. The company also attracted investors like Intel and Bose.

The Embr Wave officially went on sale in March, and it doesn’t come cheap — it costs a whopping $300, nearly as much as an Apple Watch Series 3. 

Aiding the ‘thermally underserved’

The Embr Wave is intended for a group of people Shames refers to as the "thermally underserved population" — people who are frequently uncomfortable in their indoor surroundings, either because it’s too hot or too cold. 

I happen to be part of that population — I’m almost always way too hot — so I tried out the Embr Wave for a few days to see if it made a difference. 

One of the best features of the Embr Wave is that the temperature sensation comes in waves. When you first put it on, just press the thin light bar on the front of the device, then press and hold on either the left or right side of the button — left for cold, warm for hot.

From there, you’ll feel a warming or cooling sensation intermittently for either five minutes or three minutes respectively. If you’re not satisfied by the end of a session, just knock on the front of the device and it will restart. The only downside of that design is that if you accidentally set the temperature too hot or too cold, you have to wait for it to be done and try again. 

While the device is heating or cooling, you’ll see the light bar glow in waves. Here’s the Embr Wave in action:

Shames recommends that you take the Embr Wave on and off as you need it. You don’t have to wear it like a standard wearable — instead, just strap it on when you feel uncomfortable. 

This is a good thing, too, because the device is decidedly … huge. It’s nice looking, thanks to its metal mesh band and almost complete lack of buttons, but it certainly isn’t subtle. In fact, I often felt like I was wearing a house arrest monitor on my wrist. 

Looks don’t really matter, though, because the Embr Wave actually works. I tested it everywhere I could — at my apartment, on the subway, in the office, while walking from the subway to the office, etc. — and truly felt a difference in how comfortable I was.

The Embr Wave certainly isn’t a cure-all. In one situation where I was actively sweating on a too-hot subway car, it could only help me so much. But most of the time, it provided me with a pleasant cooling sensation that saved me from feeling warm and irritable. Of course, the same feeling could probably be achieved by running your wrists under cold water, but the Embr Wave can be hidden under a shirt sleeve and worn while you continue to work or sit in a meeting. 

So, do you really need a $300 wearable with only one function? Probably not. But if you’re among the thermally underserved, you might want one. 

SEE ALSO: Everything we’ve heard so far about the Pixel Watch, the rumored Google smartwatch said to be coming later this year

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What makes music and creativity? A talk with Susan Rogers

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What makes creativity work in music? What happens in the brain? Susan Rogers has uniquely contemplated those questions both alongside artists like Prince and in research into the mind.

I got the chance to interview Dr. Rogers at SONAR+D last month, and I found my own mind wandering to how her mind works, as she characterized different kinds of intelligence. She exudes an easy sense of empathy, and in both her talks at Ableton Loop and SONAR, she’s quick to remove her own ego and move her role out of the immediate act of creativity. I imagine the ability to do so would be essential when you’re in the studio with Prince or David Byrne or the various other oversized personalities she’s managed to work with over the years. Even our audience members seemed to immediately trust her – that unique unsung talent of the best kinds of people who work behind the superstars in music.

There was a fair bit of talk about Prince at Ableton Loop. But in Barcelona, we got to focus on the mind itself – and as Susan emphasized backstage, how to define what music is in the first place. And that moves us into her work in cognition and the neuroscience that works to decipher it.

Susan is so uniquely positioned to understand this now, surrounded by young, hungry rising musical stars at Berklee atop her decades of experience.

But I also really hope we start more cross-disciplinary conversations about the topic. There’s a slide bringing up classical greats – musicology has been so caught up in comparing manuscripts and whatnot that I think there’s a vast opportunity for more interaction with fields like neuroscience. And some of what Susan describes about creativity and its variability, its interaction with depression and social isolation, the different kinds of aptitudes and thinking styles and what that means for collaboration, I suspect speaks to a lot of us on a deeply personal level. And that may be true in our lives even if we’re nothing like Prince.

Have a watch – I’m sure you’ll be as engaged throughout as I was onstage.

And I hope we look deeper into this, as what better mystery in music to explore than the mind?

Previously:
Ranging from Neurology to Prince, Susan Rogers’ talk is must-watch

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Ask The Salty Waitress: My family is way underdressed for this restaurant—should we leave?

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Dear Salty: My wife and I were recently shopping in a neighboring city with our 2-year-old. It was getting to be midafternoon when a thunderstorm started, and we hadn’t yet had lunch.

We didn’t know the area well but passed by a restaurant we’d never heard of that looked promising—not too fancy, but better than Applebee’s or something like that. So we run through the rain, go inside, and it’s a really, really nice steakhouse. My wife is dressed fine, but my son and I are in shorts and a T-shirt, and we’re all damp from the rain.

My wife is hungry and 5 months pregnant, my son is hungry and 2 years old, so we stayed. It was also after the lunch hour, so there were only two or three other tables filled at that time. My son was quiet and well behaved, and I like to think we were very pleasant, and the food was AMAZING, and I was sure to tip 50 percent, but I still felt bad being very underdressed for this place.

Am I overreacting? Were we fine, or should we have bailed and tried to find someplace else? I’ve felt slightly guilty about it ever since. Any input is appreciated.

Thanks,
At Least I Didn’t Put Ketchup on the Steak

Dear Ketchup Steak,

I know the commenters are going to type “No, you shouldn’t feel bad. You behaved yourselves, so let’s move on.” But I would be self-conscious in a situation like this—when I get caught in the rain, my hair poofs to approximately the size of a hot-air balloon, and that always makes me think I look like a poodle trapped in a damp tank top. It sucks to feel self-conscious or uncomfortable, especially in public with your family, so let’s dig into why you don’t need to sweat it.

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From your letter, it’s safe to assume this restaurant didn’t have any kind of posted dress code, so it’s not like there were “rules” you were breaking. It’s more of a case of social norms and whether people thought your family looked like the Beverly Hillbillies. It’s rare these days to stumble upon a “jackets required”-type place, and as fashion trends get stranger and stranger (what’s with the ladies’ tops that are missing parts of the shoulders?), it’s harder for restaurants to draw lines between what’s appropriate and what’s not. So already, that lack of a dress code works in your favor.

Two, it’s more acceptable be dressed down at lunch than dinner. And you weren’t even there during the business lunch rush (if there was one), so that’s also a point in your favor. If there were only a few other tables there, really, how many people could you be “offending” with your sneakers? Next point: It sounds like maybe this restaurant was in a touristy neighborhood, in which case it probably sees its fair share of visitors in flip-flops and baseball hats. I have a feeling the staff saw your family and figured out exactly what the situation was: This family is here from out of town; they got caught in the rain; this was the nearest restaurant open for lunch. If they sat you at a table, they clearly didn’t have any problem with your outfits.

And this might be a personal rule, but I tend to cut pregnant people a ton of slack. Don’t they need to eat every 20 minutes or something? If your rain-drenched, hungry, pregnant wife and her child showed up at a restaurant during a slow time of day and got turned away because they’re in T-shirts, that would be a pretty harsh dress-code enforcement squad.

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If this incident made you that uncomfortable, you could make the opposite choice in a future “choose your own adventure” version of this story and leave to find another restaurant. But then you’re even more drenched; your wife is even more hungry; and your kid is probably starting to whine; and then everyone’s cranky at lunch. I think you made a fine choice in the moment, and I hereby absolve you of your fashion sin. Maybe bring a pullover next time you’re out shopping for the day, I guess?

Oh, and you’re right: A 50-percent tip fixes most any faux-pas.


Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or are you a server/bartender with a horror story the world needs to hear? Email us: salty@thetakeout.com.

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There’s No One ‘Right Way’ to Be Single

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This week we have a guy who keeps jumping from relationship to relationship, but he’s been dying to see what the single life is like. Will he figure out how to live it up solo? Or will he realize there’s not always a right way to do everything?

Some people have problems that require delicate advice from a qualified professional. Others just need a random guy on the internet to kick ‘em in the teeth (with honesty, that is). I’m the latter. Welcome back to Tough Love.

Note: I’m not a therapist or health professional of any kind. People ask for my advice and I give it to them. End of transaction. If you have a problem with it, feel free to file a formal complaint here. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with it:

Hey Patrick!

I’ve been a poster child for short-term love, jumping from relationship to relationship, knowing that I’m not ready to settle down for good. In the meantime, I’ve learned how to establish strong connections with others, have developed some amazing relationship skills, and have had many epiphanies about myself during those times. Some even ended mutually, and my average relationship lasts 2 years (longest was 6 years) with little to no lag time between them.

I have an awesome jealousy-inducing job, and I’m financially free and don’t need to work. I’m very goal-oriented and have personal, family, career, financial, social, fitness, spiritual, and other goals that I work on regularly. I travel a lot (maybe too much) for fun with friends/lovers. I see all my close friends at least once a week and finally have a good relationship with my family. I’m happy with myself and my station in life. I practice gratitude and meditation daily, and I’ve got good control over my emotions and understanding about the triggers that cause them. I’m an avid lifehacker, and am always learning/trying new things and have lots of hobbies/interests. I like working on my routines and am pretty good with staying productive. But I’m 32 and am getting to the point where I’m ready to settle down and am done with casual and short term relationships.

There’s just one thing I haven’t conquered that I think I need to do before committing to something long-term. I’ve never really been single for more than a few months since I’ve typically got a queue of people wanting to date me (I’m a bit of a catch). I’m recently single and am ready to give it a good effort, but I’m having trouble understanding the point of being single. What should I be looking to get out of single life? Is the point of single life to just do more self improvement? I’ve got someone hitting me up that has long-term potential, but I’ve told her I need some time to be single, since this is my last chance to do it, but I’m not sure what I’m doing. I work on myself and my goals whether I’m in a relationship or not.

What do you suggest? Is my desire to understand single life even valid since I have my veritable ducks in a row? Is there something I’m not understanding correctly? Should I be working as hard as I can on my goals while not having the distraction of women? Do I need to be celibate? What can I do to work more on myself? What resources do you recommend? When do I know that enough singleness is enough?

Single Life Novice

Hey Single Life Novice:

Resources? You are in luck, my friend! I have the ultimate guide to being single right—

Oh, wait…

There is no actual guide to being single (despite what a cursory Google search might tell you). And there is no clearly defined “point” to the single life. The logistics of being single are simple:

  • You’re either single because you want to be single (you’re in-between relationships, you need time to yourself, you don’t care for serious relationships, you don’t want to be tied down, you do want to be tied down but by different people, etc.).
  • Or you were forced into being single.

Part of the problem, SLN, is that you’re looking for the best way to do things when there is really only doing what’s best for you. There is no best way to be single, no unspoken rule for how long you should be single, or any universal laws that say what you must do while you’re single. It varies. Some people would be better off alone and working on themselves; others should sow their wild oats and date around to learn what works for them; and some know what they need and simply need to keep looking for it. And you don’t ever have to settle down if you don’t want to—you can stay single forever.

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I know, you’re looking for a how-to or some kind of formula tailored to your well-organized life, but that’s not how love works. You talk about relationships like they were jobs, going over data points, telling me what you learned, showing there are no gap years, describing your skills, etc. I mean, you sound like you’re interviewing for a position as “single man” and asking me what the job requirements are, then hoping to crush it so you can hit the fast track to a career in life fulfillment with benefits and a maxed out 401k. But it’s not a career, it’s not about skillsets, or what you are, or how you define yourself—it’s about what you feel. Look for what feel’s right, SLN, not what other people say is right.

Look, you’re a Lifehacker writer’s dream—you are. You actually take action and do all the things we write about to make yourself better. It’s awesome to see, but there’s a hidden danger in that too. Last week, I got onto someone for not taking action on good advice. While you are a ready and willing individual, you also rely too much on being told what actions to take. You have to be careful of developing a belief that there’s always a right way to go about things, that there’s a definitive answer to every question in life. There’s not, so don’t let it freeze you up. You’re basically asking me to tell you what you want, and I have no freakin’ idea dude! So, I’ll turn this question cannon around so it’s aiming at the correct target. There we go, lighting the fuse, and…

WHAT DO YOU WANT?!

Do you want to stay single? Do you want to be with someone? Maybe you’re ready to settle down, but not with this person who’s showing interest right now? I don’t know. What feels right? What would make you happy, both now and in the future. I’d love to try and sell you some “guide to the single life”—trust me, clicks through the roof—but I’m not going to. Here’s what I’m going to recommend instead:

Let love happen.

You’re in a position where you can simply explore and see where your feelings lead you. Don’t push an amazing person away just because you think there are some single life milestones you still need to check off (there aren’t), and don’t feel obligated to settle down with someone who “seems fine” just because you think you have the rest of your life figured out. Keep an open mind and an open heart, and listen to your gut. If some beautiful, wonderful person comes into your awesome life and manages to make it even better somehow, let them.

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