It's  summer, which means a silent war is probably waging within your office. As temperatures increase, so does the air conditioning--along with employees' (often conflicting) desires to take control of the thermostat. 

The co-founders of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup Embr Labs think they've invented a solution. The Embr Wave, a device that looks like a faceless metal wristwatch, gets warmer or cooler at the press of a button. The theory is that this will help you feel more comfortable when bundling up or stripping down isn't an option. 

Three MIT-educated scientists spent four years developing and refining the Wave. Embr Labs co-founder David Cohen-Tanugi says that about 10 percent of people are "thermally underserved"--meaning they aren't comfortable at room temperature. (As someone who breaks a sweat at 68 degrees, this reporter knows about that all too well.) That can have a real effect on work: In a study, 53 percent of workers said their productivity takes a hit when they're too cold, while 71 percent reported the same effect when they're too warm.

Cohen-Tanugi envisions the Wave as useful in a number of other scenarios--on the subway, aboard a plane, in a job interview--in which wardrobe changes aren't possible. Press a button and choose your level of heating or cooling, and thermoelectric layers within the bracelet will change its temperature almost instantly. 

While the device won't actually alter your body temperature, Cohen-Tanugi says there is some scientific basis for the idea that warming or cooling one part of your body can help, like when you wrap your hands around your hot coffee mug to warm up. The co-founders chose the wrist because it contains a high number of nerve endings, and is a natural place to wear an accessory.

The Wave costs $299, which to some would-be buyers might seem like a high price for a gadget that doesn't have any other functions. "We're always open to customer feedback on what we can do to improve the device," Cohen-Tanugi says, "but so far, price point has not been a concern from our customers." The company has sold 10,000 units since its March launch.

Embr Labs launched the Wave through a Kickstarter campaign late last year, which blew past its goal, earning $630,000. The startup previously had received a $225,000 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation and a $100,000 investment from Intel. Bose Ventures is also an investor.

Of course, here at Inc. we had to test out the Wave for ourselves to see if it really works. Check out the latest installment of Inc. Tested above to find out the verdict.

Published on: Jun 21, 2018