Connected Low-Power Wearable Technology That Provides Personalized Thermal Comfort in Offices
Profile last edited on: 2/27/2019

Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Principal Investigator
Matthew Smith
Activity Indicator

Company Information

EMBR Labs Inc (AKA:Environment, Mind, Body Resonance Labs)

288 Norfolk Street Suite 4a
Cambridge, MA 02139
   (413) 218-0629
Multiple Locations:   
Congressional District:   07
County:   Middlesex

Phase I

Phase I year
Phase I Amount
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is to introduce wearable personal comfort systems into the internet of things, reducing energy consumption in buildings while improving the comfort and well-being of building occupants. EMBR Labs? proprietary wearable technology generates real-time comfort data, enabling reduced and optimized HVAC loads, while simultaneously providing personalized comfort to occupants. Personal comfort systems have the potential to reduce building energy consumption by 20-40% and improve occupant productivity by 2-7%. Providing this technology in commercial buildings could generate a return on investment in under 6 months while adding value for building occupants, facilities managers, and business owners. The R&D supported by this SBIR Phase I could save $B of dollars in energy costs, recapture over $20B of lost productivity. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project develops a personal comfort Internet of Things technology to resolve fundamental inefficiencies in the current approaches to maintaining the comfort and productivity of the American workforce in offices, hospitals, schools, and government buildings. The objectives of this project are to (i) demonstrate the technical feasibility of a wearable personal comfort system that is sufficiently ergonomic for adoption in the workplace, (ii) quantify the ability for the wearable technology to improve occupant comfort, and (iii) demonstrate the ability to collect real-time comfort data from the wearable personal comfort system. This SBIR Phase I project will culminate in the demonstration, validation, and quantification of wearable technology that provides real-time comfort data to smart buildings and personalized comfort to occupants.

Phase II

Phase II year
2018 (last award $$: 2020)
Phase II Amount
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II project is to make significant contributions to the future of thermal environmental conditioning in buildings throughout the world. The connected, low power, wearable personal comfort systems can provide relief for the thermally-underserved of America's workforce (who are disproportionately female or part of the aging population), thereby improving their workplace wellbeing, satisfaction, and productivity. The personal comfort system could increase worker productivity by 2-3%, unlocking $17B economic output that is currently lost due to thermal discomfort in the United States, and could reduce the cost of space heating/cooling buildings by 20-30% when integrated into smart building systems. As roughly 10% of the world's energy is spent heating and cooling the interiors of commercial buildings, this technology can make an impactful contribution to the preservation of our planet and the wellbeing of future generations. The proposed project will support the development and demonstration of a connected, low-power wearable personal comfort system that provides personalized thermal comfort to building occupants. Americans spend over 90% of their time indoors, buildings are responsible for about 40% of our total energy consumption, and yet over 40% of people in office buildings are dissatisfied with their thermal environments. The proposed project has the potential to correct this imbalance, improving occupant comfort and productivity while reducing the energy consumed by buildings. In Phase I, we demonstrated a connected, wearable personal comfort system that can improve the perceived environmental temperature by over +/-6 degF using only 1-2 W of power. In order to harness this enormous technological potential, this Phase II R&D will address remaining technical challenges around ergonomics and thermal management, intensively validate the efficacy of the devices in a laboratory setting, and culminate in deploying this technology in smart buildings and quantifying the effect on both the building and the building occupants.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.