Embrace Watch – A Month Long Journey

Last month I did a one week review about the Embrace Watch by Empatica. There were some pros and some cons, now I am here to give you a one month update on how I feel about the Embrace Watch. In this time frame, updates were made on behalf of Empatica and I got a better feel for the watch. If you are still on the fence, take a quick read to help you form an opinion before making the plunge. Click here to read my other review as well if you want more background on the watch. Enjoy! And just for reference, I am not affiliated or sponsored by Empatica – everything that is stated is based on my personal opinion and experience.

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One Month Review – The Pros

As time went on, the watch became far more accurate with my sleep and activity cycles. It has not confused the two or doubled them together, as this was an issue I had within the first week. On May 17th, I had an episode of a questionable seizure, I woke up not breathing which occurs during my seizures at times. Now the watch cannot pick up seizure activity for me because I am currently pregnant, but it did pick up that instance. It recorded it as an interruption and paralleled the same time a woke up during the night gasping for air. No, I do not have sleep apnea, never had pregnancy induced sleep apnea, never had any issues of this. I was quite pleased and excited it recorded this activity, just wish it could of recorded any convulsions. I will say that day, my body reacted as it would for a typical nocturnal seizure – so I am leaning more towards that being the case.

Another amazing accomplishment, I got the Mate App to finally work on my LTE network. It was the most frustrating thing ever to not have access if WiFi connection was not established. Granted I still need the Wifi to be on, even though it is not connected, I was finally able to access the Mate App.

I also have not had any issues with the charger, thankfully. Everything in that department seems to be in working order. Also, with the new update – GPS location tracking is now a thing! This was great news and I was super excited about this since I am out cold for what feels like forever. This will allow my family to locate me and help get assistance to me if any was to occur when I was alone or at school/work.

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The Cons

A common issue that has been reported through the community is issues with Bluetooth. I had not experienced an issue with Bluetooth at all prior to May 24th – when I went to Connecticut and stood at a more rural location than where I live and work. The Bluetooth range was not the same as it was at my house, it disconnected and reconnected more frequently, and seemed to struggle more with transferring information. I thought this was strange, so I made a point to carry my phone with me at all times – still had issues from time to time. At first, I thought perhaps it was my phone, but when I returned home, it was fine. I am curious on where the other people are located who have issues with the Bluetooth – location may play a role in this.

If you have been following Empatica’s blogs, you may notice the service charge fee will be going into effect soon. Now, you are free to test the services yourself, but when your trial is done – here is the price breakdown:

  •                 Lite: $9.90/month -Alert one contact when a seizure is detected
  •                 Standard: $19.90/month – Alert 3 contacts, also notify them by text as well as phone call. In addition, they will Receive the GPS location. You will be able to also have access to the “Rest Mode” – which helps the sensitivity of detecting seizures.
  •                 Plus: $44.90/month – Alert unlimited amount of contacts, alert by text with GPS as well as having access to “Rest Mode.”  Includes summarized monthly reports capturing your seizures, rest, and physical activity.

Now logging of seizures, activity, and sleep on the Mate App will still be free – but the main purpose of why so many bought into the watch is not. Now, my personal issue here is the overall price for a product that is still quite honestly – needs some more work. The price of the watch is already steep, now you are going to ask for payment when it needs more fine tuning. I cannot get myself past that.

Of course, if you are a parent/caregiver paying for this – sure it may be worth it to you. Now, if you are more in my position and must pay for the services yourself and can only work a limited amount of hours due to Epilepsy – it can get pricey after a while. My whole purpose of buying this watch is now tacked on with a monthly fee. I do not even know if this watch will even truly pick up my seizures yet. If you go into the community Facebook page – some people who have tonic-clonic seizures do get picked up, some do not. There are still a lot of issues with false reporting/notifications. I personally feel they should have waited a bit longer before imposing this, but this is their decision and to me – a huge turn off.

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Final Thoughts for Month One

As much as I do enjoy and love the watch, I do not think it is worth or up to par to have a subscription fee just yet. Will it get there one day? Definitely, but I do not feel it is there yet. Again, this is just my opinion. I strongly feel that they should allow ONE contact, at the very least, to be notified in case of a seizure – to me that was a huge selling point.

Now to be fair, there is another watch by Smart Monitor, called SmartWatch that also detects tonic-clonic seizures. This also requires a fee for the watch as well as a subscription fee that is similar to the Embrace Watch when it comes to contact. Now, they do not give you a break down on their site upfront, but from a UK site – for a single contact to be notified, it will cost around 15 EUR which is $16.90 USD. So Embrace is a cheaper option in comparison, but I cannot comment on which has a better ability and accuracy level.

For me personally, at this moment of time, the watch is of no use to me. I cannot fully use it till after pregnancy and then between school, work, and a newborn – I will have to manage money for a monthly fee on something that is still a work in progress and may not even work for me. So, I have decided to find this watch a new home. There are people out there who could use it now and use it more so than myself. While yes, I am terrified of what is to come after childbirth and going through seizures without warning…I am not sure if this watch will actually be able to help. I sincerely hope someone else can reap the benefits and have a sense of security.

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Are you unhappy about these changes?

A petition has been started by Rachel C. – a fellow Embrace user –  to use our collective voice in hopes to see changes be made about the new subscription fee. I ask you to take time to consider signing this petition, even if you do not decide to purchase this device. If you are just as unhappy about these changes as us, please sign and share! Just click the photo below

 

Embrace Watch by Empatica – One Week Review

Many of you may have heard of wearable technology to aid those who suffer from Epilepsy and Seizure disorders. While there are a few types out there, I have done some research and decided to settle on the Embrace Watch by Empatica. As some of you may know, I suffer from tonic-clonic, nocturnal, and myoclonic seizures that come without warning. My tonic-clonics can last quite a bit of time and leave me disoriented for upwards to an hour. Being a mother, student, and healthcare worker – I felt this would be my best option.

The Embrace Watch is a smart watch that monitors the nervous system, sleep cycles and quality of sleep, and activity levels. Best part is that it can sense when a seizure occurs when convulsions last over 10 seconds, mark it, and notify a caregiver(s) of your choice. If the watch so happens to miss a seizure or you have one of a non-convulsing type, you can mark when the seizure occurred in your dairy and see what was going on around that time frame. While yes, this is mainly aimed at tonic-clonic/grand mal seizures, it can serve some benefits to other types. The watch includes an LED clock as well that uses a light system to determine the time. It connects to a phone by Bluetooth and is said to transmit data by Wifi or cellular data services. This device charges with the use of a USB port connected to the watches docking station.

How exactly does the watch sense the seizures/activity/sleep? By using sensors which include electrodermal activity sensor, peripheral temperature sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, and gyroscope. This technology is still relatively “new” for the watch and consumer use, bare that in mind. It requires the use of two apps: the Alert App and the Mate App. Do note that if you are pregnant, you cannot use the alert function – it does not specify as to why exactly, but I imagine our body already has a lot going on and is still considered to be in trail mode. The Mate App is still functional for use and the Alert App will still track your data to transmit it over.

 

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One Week Review

When I was researching the watch, I noticed a lot of reviews were quite outdated or did not offer any type of follow up. So, here I am doing a one week review and fully anticipate doing a one month review. Since I already invested into the watch for better or for worse, I do another review as well once I meet my little one. Let us start off with the positives.

Pros

I was amazed with how quick shipping was. From time of payment to actual delivery was a week – which is great. Do keep in mind I do live in the United States and so happen to live within the same state; I might have cheated a little. Although, they do a wonderful job of updating you along the way of your shipping status and send you emails so you can learn more about the watch as you wait. I thought this was an awesome idea and kept you anticipating the arrival.

Once the Embrace Watch arrived, I was very pleased upon opening it. Came in a very sturdy package, the watch was beautiful and slick, you would never guess off hand it was used as a medical device (note: not officially calssified as a medical device yet though. Still in trial phases). Upon wearing the watch, I felt that it was quite comfortable – the strap is of a stretchy fabric material that can expand quite big and shrink quite small (good for my child-like wrists).  Charging the watch was quite simple – pinch open the port, place the watch in the port with hearts facing the same direction, connect the USB cable to a USB port (I used my laptop). Initial charging did take a bit – although, my computer decided to not function so I cannot give you an accurate time lapse; but I would expect this to occur. Charging afterwards did not take nearly as long – but I will get into that more later. It connected to blue tooth fine, I had decided I would run the watch off cellular data initially, and the phone I am using is an Iphone 6 with IOS 10.3.1.

Both the Alert App and Mate App was easy to fine, downloaded fine, and connected to the watch fine – very easy set-up process. My Alert App did need a Firm Ware update, so please check into that after downloading.  Also, if there are any issues, there is a wonderful and pleasant Facebook group for Embrace Watch Owners – they are extremely helpful and nice and one person I could never thank enough.

I would also like to add; their customer support has been absolutely lovely and do get back to you in a kind and effective manner. I feel that they truly do care and are trying their best. It is not automated in tone like most places.

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The Cons with Daily updates

May 7th – After the arrival

So, first things first – the watch did not record and has still not put in information for May 6th, when I started wearing the watch. I chalked this up to maybe I did not wear it enough within 24 hours. I turned to the Facebook group and everyone said it should have showed – still nothing. Well, that is just a minor setback, was not overly surprised. When I decided to charge my battery – yes it needs to be charged daily, this to me is understandable and easy to work around – it was in the teens and once the watch and Alert App indicated it was full charged, I put watch back on. To my surprise, I went to check the Alert App again it dropped to 89%…errm. It still lasted quite a while at least, I just did not understand as to why the sudden drop.

Now I went to recheck my Mate App to see today’s data (remember I have been wearing it since the day before) and nothing came up. I actually could not even get into the Mate app at times. Well, okay, perhaps it was something I was doing wrong or connection issue. I followed what the site said to do: uninstall and reinstall the app, logged in and out of the app, restarted my phone, and I have not lost any Bluetooth connectivity, but deiced to reconnect that too. Nothing worked. The Alert App did not have any pending downloads. I decided to go somewhere with Wifi, as my last hope, and see if that helped – and it sure did. All my data from May 7th showed, although as days progressed – I could not use my cellular data/LTE network AT ALL to transmit data or access the Mate App. I ended up having to turn my partner’s cellphone into a hotspot. When I cannot access Wifi, I will not have data showing or access to the Mate App. Luckily, data does store and save on the watch until I can access Wifi.

May 8th

The watch started recording rest times that did not occur. I can tell you for a fact, because I was driving during this time, I was awake from 7:00-8:00 am – it even recorded me walking to my car as activity that same morning during the rest time. I am assuming if you do not move enough, it registers as rest. So now I am questioning the actual accuracy of the watch. It is accurate most of the time – I will not take away from that, but this was quite confusing. Later that day LED clock COMPLETELY stopped working. I attempted to clean the watch according to the website – remind you I only had the watch for 3 days, had not spilt anything, got it wet, dirty, banged it, or dropped it. This was then met by the watch not charging now. I followed the directions and did so the same way as I had done the last two days – nothing. LED clock came on briefly when I tried getting it to charge, but nothing afterwards. After some finagling and frustration, the watch decided to charge – this time only up until 60% before it completely stopped again.

May 10th

Still having issues with false reading rest/sleep. I felt like I made sure to keep that wrist and arm active every now and then, it still recorded it as sleep. I can see this becoming an issue with school and reading; on the 9th it did record a period of time when I was reading as sleep. Today the LED clock started working again (huzzah)! I am curious if it was a temporary glitch in the system. Also, my charger actually worked last night too – curious if it was interrelated as well. I have been in touch with customer support this entire time – sending them my concerns and screenshots when needed. They have been  lovely about everything.

May 11th

Charger decided to not work again. Got a notification that my battery was low, I let it drain this time and it would not charge. I tried everything that I could to get it to work – nothing.

About 30 minutes later, charger decided to work (huzzah!)

Later that evening, there was an update related for the Alert App – main thing about it was now there is a “Rest Mode.” The cool thing about this is that it has a higher sensitivity for seizure detection; so you would place this mode on when you are watching TV or sleeping. “Night mode” got renamed to “Lights and Vibrations” to avoid any confusion with “Rest Mode.” Another change, the batter life is no longer displayed in percent – rather with displaying full, high, medium, low, or charge now. They do have a guide to tell you about how many hours you have left – not really a huge fan, preferred the percentage better. This is just my preference and not any fault of the watch or company

May 12th

Well today I had a 3-hour glucose test; it would be nice if the watch could detect seizures for pregnancy. I had a few myoclonic jerks due to my blood sugar being low and all I did was sleep today. Curious if anything happened in my sleep since I am not normally like this, not even with my last 3-hour glucose test, but alas the watch is not suitable for pregnancy. Ah well.

I think the update was a huge help, although while it did not really state updating anything sensitivity wise other than seizure detection, it was way more accurate with my sleep cycles and activity – super pleased by this. Also, no issues at all with the charger today! Definitely restored my faith in the watch.

(The updated version on left – right: older version)

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Final Thoughts for Week One

A little disappointed overall at first, was not expecting so many glitches/issues for the price. I do fully understand it is relatively new technology, but basic functions such as sleep/activity should not be a huge issue with the recording. Some issues resolved on their own such as the clock and charger, which is fine, but can be frustrating for some. It seems that after the new update, it became more accurate with activity and sleep levels, which is great. Definitely boosted my confidence for the watch’s future.

I was little bummed about finding out it will not alert seizures for those who are pregnant – I can see why in some respects, but sometimes this is when women have their most seizures. Luckily during this pregnancy my major ones stopped. I still proceeded to get the watch now so I could work through it for after delivery. I have seizures without fail right before and after pregnancy and things can get scary with a newborn.

I fully plan on doing a follow-up review in a month to inform those who are on the fence about the watch and following my experience. I fully believe that as time goes on, it will only get better. By the end of the week I saw it improve with just one update – I was impressed. Although to be fair, it also could of been chalked up to the watch learning my body as well. I will say this: do not knock it out of the park yet. While it may seem like a steep price for a piece that is still “new,” I do believe it will be worth the investment.

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Are you thinking about owning your own Embrace watch? Leave a comment below followed by any questions you may have and I will try my best to answer them!

If you are looking into getting your own watch or finding out more, click here

Until next time!