Matthew Smith, Sam Shames and David Cohen-Tanugi were brainstorming ideas for their student projects in an over-air conditioned lab when it hit them: What if you had the power to “hack” your inner thermostat?

Four years later, that idea blossomed into the Embr Wave temperature bracelet: a watch-size device that delivers short pulses of hot and cold to stimulate the body’s heating and cooling sensations.  

Research shows office employees are all too familiar with freezing in the summer and roasting in the winter. For this reason, accurate performance measurements of HVACR devices are crucial. But Embr hopes to customize heating and cooling performance down to personal space.

After a brief startup phase last year, the Embr Wave bracelets are now available for pre-order at $299 each. But how well do they actually work? In a review by Digital Trends, the feeling was … lukewarm:

It’s not like stepping into a walk-in freezer and getting hit with a shiver-inducing burst of temperature change, which is what I was (naively) hoping for as I hastily unboxed the review unit in the oppressive heat of my office. The feeling is much more subtle; like running your wrist under a cold tap, or moving your head to the cold side of your pillow. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable — the sensation just isn’t as pronounced as you might expect.

When it comes to the heating and cooling comforts a quality HVAC system provides, it's clear Embr won't be competing any time soon. Still, the technology's promise for personal comfort is there. A study by the global research and consulting firm, EYP, Inc. found that employees using Embr were 72 percent more comfortable in their workplace.

“Embr Wave potentially represents a very interesting and innovative way for employers and building owners to lower their energy costs,” said EYP vice president of design and expertise, Leila Kamal. “One of the best ways we can have a positive impact on our planet is by reducing the energy consumption of our buildings."

In a press release announcing the availability of the Embr bracelets for sale, Embr co-founder Sam Shames echoed an enthusiasm for Embr's potential: “We have no doubt that Embr Wave is going to fundamentally change how people think about temperature and personal comfort.”

As the device continues to improve with software updates connected via smartphone, who knows what the next wave will bring.