ANAHEIM, Calif.—A new wearable device for the wrist or ankle can transmit vibrations that help the body beat stress by restoring its natural equilibrium.
Developed by Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Apollo Neuroscience Inc., the wellness device, which is named Apollo, is said to be the first wearable to reduce stress, improve sleep and increase energy.
A mobile app paired with the wearable tells it to generate one of seven different modes of vibrations, the company said. The vibration patterns send safety signals to the body to improve heart rate variability (HRV), which is a metric of the body's recovery from stress.
The improved HRV restores equilibrium and, depending on the mode, allows wearers to relax, get restorative sleep, focus attention or boost energy.
Physicians and neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh spent five years developing and testing the wearable in the lab and real world. Their goal was to find ways to reduce the negative effects of stress and give individuals more control over their attention, mood and overall health.
The university team discovered that certain combinations of low frequency sound waves—vibrations that can be felt but not heard—can safely and reliably change how someone feels through the sense of touch. They also found that physiological changes can be measured in near real time.
The developers made two important material choices in terms of an engineered plastic for the device, and a synthetic rubber for the band, said John J. Maholtz, Apollo Neuroscience chief operating officer. Because Apollo is worn on the wrist or ankle, it needs to withstand lotions, perfumes and cleaners in addition to wear and tear.
The Apollo device is made of a polycarbonate-polyester blend material called Makroblend M525 supplied by Covestro L.L.C., while the strap is a polyester neoprene. The Makroblend material met requirements for toughness and chemical resistance, Maholtz said. The strap material was chosen for its comfort.
"We made a prototype and I couldn't quite adjust it where I wanted," he said. "It was either a little loose or a little tight. This material (polyester neoprene) with Velcro allows you to pull it as tight as you want. It's comfortable and it meets biocompatibility."
Regardless of whether someone is selecting an Apollo mode to get to sleep or perform better, they don't want the wearable to feel too noticeable.
"Comfort is critical. It makes no sense to have a sleep device if it keeps you awake," said Douglas Hamilton, Covestro's global health care segment leader.
In addition to the mode of "sleep and renew," the Apollo wearable can be set to modes called: energy and wakeup, social and open, clear and focused, rebuild and recover, meditation and mindfulness, and relax and unwind.