CES 2024: AI wearable Apollo Neuro uses ‘good vibes’ to cure my social anxiety
12 mins read

CES 2024: AI wearable Apollo Neuro uses ‘good vibes’ to cure my social anxiety


I never thought anyone could literally encapsulate “good vibes” in a wearable, but here we are. The Apollo Neuro, one of the wearables being showcased at CES 2024, is a band you can wear around your wrist or ankle, and — get this — it delivers different feel-good vibrations depending on your needs.

If you need to feel calm and relaxed, there are vibes for that. Seeking energy and focus? The Apollo Neuro can help with that, too.

What really caught my eye, however, is that Apollo claims that this funky wearable can ease you through high-anxiety situations, which can be something as simple as a social function for someone as jittery as myself.

But the question is, does the Apollo Neuro actually work? I wore it for three weeks to find out.

Apollo Neuro price

As of this writing, the Apollo Neuro costs $299.99 on Amazon. It comes with a USB-A to micro-USB charging cable, an ankle/wrist band, and a clip if you prefer to attach it to your clothing.

Apollo Neuro worn around wrist


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

The Apollo Neuro also comes with an optional feature called SmartVibes, which uses predictive and generative AI to deliver personalized experiences by learning about users’ health and sleep patterns. Available as a subscription for $99.99 (iOS) and $79.99 (Android) a year, SmartVibes uses AI to guesstimate when you need more rest, when you’d benefit from an energy boost, and more.

Note: This review did not test the premium subscription.

What I love about Apollo Neuro

I have mixed feelings about the Apollo Neuro, but let’s start with what I love about the wellness wearable:

Subscription isn’t required

You don’t need to purchase the membership to enjoy Apollo Neuro. You just won’t get the benefit of personalized vibrations — a.k.a SmartVibes — that feed you exactly what you need based on what it has learned about you.

It collects data from sleep metrics as well as your in-app daily mood and feeling logs.

Apollo Neuro and companion app on a table


Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Interestingly, you can also link your Oura ring, allowing the Apollo Neuro to learn more about you through that device’s data. This feature is only available to subscribers.

As you’ll read in the next section, sans the SmartVibes subscription, there are still preset vibration profiles that you can use to enjoy the Apollo Neuro’s benefits.

There’s a vibe for everything

You can download the Apollo Neuro companion app on iOS or Android, which lets you choose between seven vibration profiles. Each preset is designed to enhance a certain mental state or activity. A co-worker asked me, “But what does [the Apollo Neuro] want you to physically do when it vibrates? Are you meant to complete a task when you get buzzed?”

To be clear, you don’t need to do a single thing. Just vibe with it.

Apollo Neuro and companion app on a table


Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

  • “Energy” gives you a vitality surge when you’re feeling sluggish. It’s as if you’re getting a shot of espresso. It’s ideal for boring meetings or when you’re starting to feel a little sluggish as the day winds down.

  • “Social” elevates your mood, ensuring that you’re your best self while you’re at parties or networking for work.

  • “Focus” is designed to help fend off distractions. It’s beneficial for productivity and pre-athletic performances. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for working out — the band is made of neoprene and polyester, which aren’t ideal for sweat resistance.

  • “Recover” is best for post-workout cooldowns. You can also use it after a long flight or commute — or when you’re feeling rundown or sick.

  • “Calm” puts you in a zen-like state and relieves you from feeling too tense.

  • “Unwind” helps to alleviate stress for deep relaxation.

  • “Fall Asleep,” like the name suggests, is designed to lull you into a restful sleep.

No matter which less-than-ideal state I was in, the Apollo Neuro had a setting to restore balance back into my life.

The wearable’s efficacy is based on scientific research

Did someone just decide to throw a bunch of vibrations into a wearable and call it a day? No, not at all. 

Apollo Neuro worn around wrist


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

Its efficiency was put to the test with seven clinical trials. The company partnered with institutions like the University of Pittsburgh, the Children’s Integrated Center for Success, and a Pittsburgh-based nursing facility to conduct these trials. Some of the participants included club and varsity athletes, healthy adults over the age of 18, kids between the ages of seven and 17, adults diagnosed with ADHD, and more.

According to the studies, Apollo Neuro saw small improvements in heart-rate variability (HRV), sleep quality and cardiovascular recovery, enhanced focus and concentration, reduced stress and burnout, and boosted mood and positive behavior.

How does Apollo work? Without getting too nerdy, it’s designed to maintain balance between the two branches of the autonomic nervous system: parasympathetic and sympathetic. The former prepares you for intense physical activity while the latter relaxes your body and preserves energy.

If any of these are all out of whack, it can leave you stressed, tense, lethargic, and other suboptimal states. This is where Apollo steps in, stimulating something called the “vagus nerve.” According to this Apollo press release:

“The Apollo wearable soothes the nervous system through the power of touch. The body responds to the Apollo wearable like it does to touch because its vibrations mimic natural oscillation patterns between the heart and lungs activated during deep breathing.”

Put it this way. An enveloping hug can make you feel good as your partner’s touch calms your nerves. The Apollo Neuro harnesses those energies and puts it into a wearable. With those soothing vibrations stimulating your touch receptors, it communicates similar feelings of safety and control to your brain — as if you’re feeling a warm embrace right from your wrist.

The question is, did these studies mirror my own experience?

“Social” vibrations worked for me

I’ve had the Apollo Neuro for about three weeks now, and I’ve tested the following three profiles on my wrist and ankle: Focus, Fall Asleep, and Social. Why those three? I have ADHD, I struggle with insomnia, and I’m a ball of nerves in social situations.

Apollo Neuro worn around wrist


Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Out of the trio, Social was the most effective for me. I strapped it around my wrist before a social function, and within seconds I felt the tingles — a sensation that you might feel, say, when you hear someone singing like an angelic songbird. It’s similar to how I feel when I’m listening to binaural beats or ASMR.

The Social profile is well curated with a set of vibrations that feel “high,” as if you’re touching a flute while someone plays a heartfelt symphony. This was beneficial while talking to people because conversations are more fluid when I’m “vibrating high.”

Adjust the intensity to your liking

There are two ways to adjust the intensity of the vibrations. You can use the two buttons on the Apollo Neuro itself or you can do it via the companion app.

Apollo Neuro


Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

At first, I started with an intensity of 25 percent. But like a drug, over time, the intensity lost its oomph; 25 percent started to feel too weak. At the end of my three-week testing, my new normal is now 40 percent.

Seamless companion app

I love the Apollo Neuro’s companion app. Not only is it easy on the eyes, but it’s seamless to use, allowing me to easily switch between tabs.

What’s “eh” about the Apollo Neuro

There are some aspects about the Apollo Neuro that I neither love nor dislike — I’m simply indifferent.

Design is mid

The Apollo Neuro’s design is a bit clunky, but I don’t find it to be unattractive. I’d prefer it to be sleeker and thinner, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

Apollo Neuro worn around ankle


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

Aside from the two physical buttons on the wearable, there’s no screen or anything else to interact with. The metal loop, made of powder-coated stainless steel, comes in different colors. The Quartz colorway Apollo sent me is the best-looking one. There’s also Glacier, Rose, Slate, and Stealth.

Because the Apollo Neuro is on the thick side, I’ve had co-workers joke that I look like I’m on house arrest when I wear it around my ankle.

Battery life is OK

The battery life isn’t half bad if you use it for just a few hours every day. For example, if you need a quick mood booster before your daily work meeting, the Apollo Neuro could last two days or more.

However, if you use it to fall asleep, it will consume a lot of energy while you’re getting some Z’s. In this case, it’ll run out of juice quickly. In my experience, it’ll last about seven hours on a single charge.

What I dislike about the Apollo Neuro

Now, it’s time to discuss some aspects of the Apollo Neuro that give me pause.

Effectiveness is hit or miss

I really wanted the other presets I tested to work (i.e., Focus and Fall Asleep), but I didn’t feel any significant changes to my concentration or my sleep.

Apollo Neuro worn around ankle


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

However, you may have a different experience. For example, I dragged one of my co-workers into testing the Apollo Neuro for a few hours, particularly the Focus preset, on both his ankle and wrist. He concluded that the Apollo Neuro worked, but only while wearing it on his ankle.

Materials could be better

The band, which has a woven look, gets dirty quite quickly. I accidentally stained it with a stick of lipstick. When I tried to scrub it off, the stain lingered. As such, I’d prefer material that is sweat- and stain-resistant, making it easier to clean.

Better as a feature set in a smartwatch

Apollo Neuro would be a bigger draw if it were a part of a broader feature set inside a smartwatch. For example, if the Apple Watch Series 9 — in addition to sleep tracking, fitness logging, blood-oxygen monitoring, and more — had the Apollo Neuro tech packed inside, it’d be a more attractive option.

Apollo Neuro worn around wrist


Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

The vibration profiles are hit or miss, so at least if you have a variety of other features to play with, it’s a worthy investment.

Final thoughts

I’m relieved that the Apollo team doesn’t market this wearable as a fitness device; we have plenty of those, and they’ve saturated the market. Instead, it’s a wellness wearable designed to rebalance you back to some sort of healthy homeostasis via feel-good vibrations.

I’m not convinced all of its vibration profiles are effective, but I can’t deny that the Social preset is pretty damn good — so good that I’m wearing it right now as I navigate CES 2024.





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