heartmath-emwave2-review

A Thorough HeartMath emWave2 Review – Is It Worth The Money?

Here we're going to be looking at the emWave2 heart rate variability training device by HeartMath. The specific version that I'm reviewing (seeing as it's the only one that I actually have personal experience with) is the Heartmath emWave2 (charcoal).

If you don't have time to read this rather large and all emcompassing review right now, please bookmark it for future reference – You can check out the current price listing on Amazon for the emWave2 here.

This is a device I picked up about 2 years ago, at the time being a little sucked into the marketing, and very fascinated with the whole concept of heart rate variability as a biomarker for physical health and also as a relative tool for the objective measurement of a somewhat spiritual training concept.

On this page I hope to give you as much information as possible to make sure you're informed about not just all the usual stuff like “how does it work”, “can I use it for X” etc, but I also want to provide you some background and references to some of the published scientific material on Heart Rate Variability and how it impacts health.

As always, I'll be putting my own personal spiel on things, and giving you some ideas on what I feel are the limitations, and issues that also can arise from using this interesting piece of technology.

My First Impressions Of The Emwave2

I first came across the Emwave being discussed on the bulletproof forums, and immediately I was intrigued by this technology. I did my research and it turned out that this admittedly rather gimmicky looking device that's price point was certainly nothing to sneeze at, actually had a lot of pretty solid scientific research behind it. I was pretty excited by all that I read up on HRV and it's connection to either states of high performance, or conversely, states of disease.

So it was immediately apparent to me that by being able to actually measure one's heart rate variability on the screen using this device was a very powerful thing. Possibly even more importantly, I was intrigued by the apparent ability that this device would allow for teaching one how it FEELS to get into that state by training yourself over time, which eventually would enable one to let go of using the device entirely, which I think is the point when you look at the bigger picture.

I was excited by the potential, now the investment was seeming somewhat less scary, considering the potential that this tech could offer in terms of both healing and personal growth and achievement.

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An Introduction Into Heart Rate Variability

So as you may or may not have become aware by now through your other research into this product, the main point of the Emwave2 device is to measure your heart rate variability. That's great, but what is heart rate variability (HRV) and what's the point of measuring it? Let's answer those basic questions here, so we can get onto the real analysis of the Emwave and whether it's a decent thing to spend your money on.

The heart beats a certain amount of times per minute, and this is how we measure one's heart rate (for example a heart rate of 75 is fairly standard if you are just standing up, but not exercising), this is nothing ground breaking I'm sure, as you probably already knew that.

What you may not have already known up until this point is that the hearts unique beats are far from uniform in terms of the timing of each beat over a given period of linear time. Heart Rate Variability measures the variation of heart beats over a given amount of time.

Very generally speaking here (we'll get a little more scientific and specific further on down) having a lot of variation in your heart beat over a given time means you are generally going to be more healthy, and is now known to be a associated factor when it comes to all sorts of health related issues, and a low HRV after someone has experienced a Myocardial infarction (more commonly referred to as a heart attack) has been clinically linked to increased risk of mortality [1].

Low HRV has also been linked to depression, diabetic neuropathy, and for infants – a higher susceptibility to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and poor survival rates for prematurely born babies.

So even from this very brief description just to give you an idea of what heart rate variability is, and why it's important, you can see that as far as it's health implications it's a fairly big deal. The scientific literature behind HRV and it's relation to more and more states of disease is growing rapidly, so we can see that it's at the very least, something worthy of paying attention to and learning more about.

This is why the concept of the Emwave2 had me so initially excited, as I could see that it was a lot more than just a cool looking device, but could theoretically implant me with the internal tools I'd need in future to increase not only my own current state of health, but also my longevity (adding more years to the time I have on the planet, a fairly big deal I'd say).

The Implications Of Successful HRV Training

There are a number of physiological and emotional benefits for people who stick with the practice of consistent training to increase their Heart rate variability over time.

Better Stress Reduction and Resilience

A higher HRV is seen to be indicative of greater physiological resilience and the ability to not only cope with stress, but to bounce back after stressful events (resilience). A higher heart rate variability seems to make us more flexible in the midst of life's challenges, and less rigid in our responses.

This may give us more open minded awareness, lending towards seeing opportunities that may otherwise have been missed. When we are overly wound up in our stress response, it's very difficult to see things clearly and make the best decisions as a response to the stressful situation. [2].

Increased Longevity

Heart rate variability is now said to be a “marker” for biological aging. This basically means it's been accepted as having a scientific bases in terms of it's relation to longevity.

HRV is naturally highest when we are young, and as we age typically our heart rate variability gets lower and lower, decreasing our physiological flexibility and ability to easily cope with the new stressful events. Increase your HRV over the long term, and you may be adding months or years to your life, at least that's what the studies are now pointing towards [2].

Greater Mental & Emotional Health

Our feelings and emotions are one of the most powerful factors which effect our current heart coherence level and therefore HRV.

Generally when we are in what would be classed as “negative emotional states” like frustration, anger, anxiety, panic or fear this reflects on our live heart rhythm pattern, and this can be seen when we're in a state of anxiety for instance and hook ourselves up to the Emwave2.

This is known as an incoherent heart pattern, and basically means that the two main wings of the autonomic nervous system (the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, respectively) are out of balance. Just in terms of running our human biological system efficiently, these states are disruptive to say the least, and sometimes they would be better labeled as chaotic.

By practicing with the Emwave2 or anything that helps you to practice increasing your heart rate variability, you are directly and indirectly working on having the experience of more positive emotions and mental states, and this has a very positive effect on your physiology short term, and long term as the positive effects accrue.

Optimal Functioning and Performance

HeartMath has shown that sustained positive emotions leads to a state they've coined “psychophysiological coherence”. This basically translates to a greater state of harmony in one's body and mind, and ultimately means that our physiological systems function better and internally we experience greater mental clarify and emotional harmony.

So the research shows that this is certainly a state that's worth putting some time into building as a resource within yourself.

A Look At Some Of The Published Studies Behind Heart Rate Variability

geek-timeThis is the part of the discussion around heart rate variability that gets me personally excited, as I'm a bit of a nerd, and also I've spent a lot of time researching, studying and applying many different personal development tools and techniques, and let's be honest, there's a lot of rubbish theory out there with no basis whatsoever in reality.

We're going to drill down into a few of the published studies a little here (there's certainly a lot more out there, if you really want to continue studying the science yourself).

The amount of published studies that have come up related to heart rate variability in the past 15-20 years is staggering, and a lot of that is thanks to the very active work by the HeartMath Foundation. This is clearly illustrated just by looking at the pubmed “results by year” graphical representation shown when you do a search for “heart rate variability” in their database (which you can do by clicking here).

heart-rate-variability-studies-growthThe graph shows studies dating back to 1971, so as you can see that's a lot of growth in the past 15 years. In fact, as I write this there over 20, 400 studies that come back in the search results related to HRV.

Now it should be observed that not all of these studies are directly looking at heart rate variability itself, but because they use heart rate variability so often these days as a marker for physiological and/or psychological stress, it's now referenced all over the place.

Study #1: Effect of a weight reduction program on baseline and stress-induced heart rate variability in children with obesity
Study Source: Pubmed
Study Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26704529

In this study the aim was to see if the adherence to a weight reduction program for children would increase parasympathetic dominance of their autonomic nervous system. It's well known that adults with obesity experience autonomic dysregulation, but this study wanted to see if the same applied to children.

The study took 60 children with obesity, and 27 matched children (age and sex) without obesity (as the control group). Heart rate variability was measured at baseline, and after a period of mental stress for both the obese group and the control.

Initially no changes were found at baseline between the obese group and healthy controls. It was found that the obese group of children made a shift towards parasympathetic dominance after completion of the weight loss program. However the program didn't have any affect on the previously obese children's autonomic nervous system reactivity during stressful conditions.

Study #2: Changes in heart rate variability during anaesthesia induction using sevoflurane or isoflurane with nitrous oxide
Study Source: Pubmed
Study Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27689429

I thought this study to be a good representation of the types of things that are now being tested by using the biomarker of HRV. In this study the aim was to see how 2 different anaesthesias (sevoflurane or isoflurane) effected the HRV of subjects.

40 participants between the ages of 30-60 years old were chosen, they were scheduled for general anaesthesia and were divided into two equal sized groups of 20 participants each, using either sevoflurane or isoflurane.

Various components of HRV were measured during the study, and the conclusion was that “Anaesthesia induction with isoflurane-nitrous oxide transiently increased cardiac sympathetic activity….. sevoflurane-nitrous oxide decreased both cardiac sympathetic and parasympathetic activities”. It was also found that the ANS balance between PNS and SNS (parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system) was greater with the use of sevoflurane.

Study #1: State-related differences in heart rate variability in bipolar disorder
Study Source: Pubmed
Study Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27743529

It's a known factor that heart rate variability is lowered in people suffering from Bipolar Disorder (BD). This study aimed to investigate the differences in HRV for those suffering from BD.

The study involved 16 participants, and used a small heart rate and movement sensor weighing 8g, that was worn by the study participants over the period of 3 consecutive days minimum. They compared the results of the data measured over this period to a database with “100.000 HRV data-points” (I'm assuming they were using this as a control to compare with the data from the participants with BD).

It was found that during the manic state, HRV increased by a minimum of 17%, and they concluded that HRV could be used to “represent a candidate state marker”. Obviously the study size was very small, but this study verified that there would be value in conducting a larger study.

Study #2: Cardiac Coherence Training to Cope with Workplace Stress for People with Mild Intellectual Disabilities
Study Source: HeartMath Foundation
Study Link: https://www.heartmath.org/research/research-library/clinical/cardiac-coherence-training-cct-cope-workplace-stress-people-mild-intellectual-disabilities/

In this smaller scale study by Jérôme Favroda, Armando Brana, Angélique Gavillet, Michel Akselrod, Alexandra Nguyen, Julie Palix –  the goal was to test the efficacy of using cardiac coherence for people with mild intellectual disability. The foundational hypothesis during this study was that “practice of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (also known as RSA) improves responsiveness to external stimuli by developing the capacity to respond to them”.

17 volunteers with a mild intellectual disability were chosen, and over a period of 2 weeks they were given training in cardiac coherence which was taught in the manner of 30 minute breath control lessons given before the start of their work day.

The effect of these exercises was recorded using both HRV obtained using ECG (Electrocardiography) and the PSS (Perceived Stress Scale) during the week prior and after these exercises had been followed.

The study found that 10 out of the 17 participants had improved their scores with the PSS. The study benefited all participants in either reduction of perceived stress, psychological stress, or both types of stress. Though this study was small in scale, it showed that the population experiencing intellectual disability responds well to training which aims to lower their HRV and increases cardiac coherence.

Apart from the very small sample rate of the 4 studies that I've referenced above, if you want to delve further into the research and work that's being done on how HRV relates to so many different areas, then one of the best ways to get a quick overview of what's available is on the heartmath.org website itself.

You can see a list of all their research here, and they also have a featured research area, which has some really fascinating studies, for example as I'm writing this they have a fascinating study going on looking at how solar and Earth magnetic fields affect people (who's HRV is being monitored using emwave technology or similar).

They are also going as far as to measure the electrical activity of trees! They've seem to have found a link between trees and earthquake onset, so this is yet another amazing area of research, though getting a little off topic here so I'll wind it back in (if interested, you can read more about that topic here).

 

A Quick Discussion On The Idea Of “Coherence”

Physiological coherence is ultimately the goal of using the Emwave2, and as you practice you generally should be able to get into a state of physiological coherence more and more easily, and more quickly. The whole point of the emwave2 device is to guide you in learning how this personal experience comes about, and how it feels once you're there.

In terms of how this looks when using the EmWave2 software or viewing your past sessions, there's a very clear difference in your heart rate variability charts when you are in, or out of that state of coherence. Here's an image taken from the heartmath.co.uk website that shows this clearly.

heartmath-emwave2-coherence

As you can see, the coherence state as a very clear visual representation, shown by the ordered and patterned waves of the heart rhythm, when compared to the disorganized and chaotic patterns shown by states like anxiety, frustration, etc.

Another image from the same heartmath website, to hammer down the point:

heartmath-emwave2-coherence2

So in some way, your goal and also the value of using the Emwave is to try and emulate those nice patterned waves, at least at the beginning, as it's a great way to understand what you are doing, and see the results of your focused attention when doing the coherence raising techniques taught by HeartMath.

Ultimately I believe the goal is to get to the point where you no longer need the device at all. The emWave2 is kind of like the training wheels on the bike (teaching you how to get to that balance of psychological coherence), and eventually you just know how to find that balance yourself and can shed the device and reap all the benefits that the training has provided you.

The Emwave2 Features From a Buyer/User's Perspective

Here I'm going to cover all the different important features when it comes to both the hardware itself (the Emwave2 device that records your real time HRV data) and the software that integrates with the device to give you all the fancy information and allows you to train your heart rate variability via playing games, using the heart coherence coach and more.

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Feature #1 – A Closer Look At The Device Itself

The device comes in a colour choice of either either silver blue or charcoal gray. I thought the charcoal grey looked way cooler, so as you can see by my pictures here, that's the one I went with.

The basic contents of the box will include the following:

  • Emwave2
  • Earclip cable
  • USB cable
  • Instructions booklet, warranty info, etc

The cables and instruction booklets are pretty self explanatory, so let's just discuss the device itself. There are only 2 buttons on the device which operate a variety of different features, and once understood allow you to navigate through different menu systems to operate the device in the way you want based on your own personal preferences and training goals.

For a quick example, the bottom button is the power button, and powers on the device if held for 2-3 seconds, but it's also the button that controls the degree of strength displayed by the LED lights on the device when you've first switched it on, and by pressing the bottom button just after you've powered it on, you can cycle through the 4 different LED settings.

As I mention later on down the page where I discuss what I see as the limitations and negatives of this product, I think the buttons can be a little confusing to use for so many different features, and it's a bit annoying. At least this was my initial experience, but you do figure it out after using a few times, and it's not such a big deal as to make the product no longer a decent investment.

Feature #2 – Syncing the Emwave2 Device To The Software

Using the box supplied USB cable you're able to not only connect to your computer to do live training sessions which we'll discuss later on, and you can see in this live demo video of me using the software here LINK – but this is also how you sync your session data over to be stored on your computer, and if you like at the same time delete it off your device to create more space.

This aspect of the product works really well I think. You don't have to sync to your computer very regularly in order to do this, so it doesn't create any issues with losing session data, etc.

I am not sure on the precise amount of hours you can log on the device before it fills up, but I'm sure it's more space than you'll need in most cases, as I've never experienced it running out of space for new sessions, and plus you'll need to recharge the battery before that happens which gives you a chance to easily sync your data at the same time.

When you plug in your Emwave2 via the USB and have the Emwave software is running, you'll see there's an option to sync from your device, importing all session data so you can see how you've been doing in terms of reaching coherence over time, etc.

Feature #3 – The Main Software Features

There's a lot of features packed into this software, and it provides a very feature rich and information rich “training center” in which to learn about and practice increasing your heart rate variability. Let's have a look at the different areas of the software.

Feature #3.1 – Coherence Coach

This is a great place to start if you are still trying to find your feet when it comes to learning the process of the quick coherence technique, which is one of HeartMath's most popular, widely used, and widely applicable exercises in order to increase your heart coherence level and improve your HRV.

The Coherence Coach (using a neutral sounding male voice with an American accent) walks you through the simple steps of focusing on the area of your heart, breathing whilst focusing on your heart, and then thinking or imaging something that makes you get in touch with the heart related emotions of gratitude, love, peace, etc.

Feature #3.2 – HeartCloud

HeartCloud is the online and community aspect of the software, and you have the ability to upload your session data from either your Emwave software, or from directly within your HeartMath Inner Balance application. While viewing the HeartCloud area, you can look at your scores over time, your top scores, etc. You can also see what other people are up to with their coherence training, by way of seeing the people with the top coherence scores for the week, and month, etc.

I think this feature is a great idea and adds a lot to the whole Emwave package, because it helps you to feel connected to like minded people who also have the positive aspirations of working on their heart coherence and improving their physical and emotional health, and/or increasing their performance ability.

Feature #3.3 – HRV Games

The games section is where you're able to work on your heart rate variability using a bunch of different computer games, with the aim being to make the process more fun, and to help you to see it as a challenge.

This is a good idea for those of us who tend to take the whole self improvement thing a little seriously, and need to remember to relax and enjoy the process, whilst continuing to grow and expand along the way.

There are a variety of games, here's the current list of titles:

  • Coherence Coach (there's a whole section on this above)
  • My Inspiration (full section below)
  • Balloon Game
  • Garden Game
  • Rainbow Game
  • Healing Hands Visualizer
  • Portal Of Care Visualizer
  • Child's Heart Visualizer
  • Star Fire Visualizer

Balloon Game

The idea of this game is pretty simple. Keep your balloon high in the sky by keeping a high coherence score. You can't crash the balloon or anything, don't worry. You'll simply float lower and closer. But the aim is to get way up, making the balloon smaller and smaller as you go. You can see my personal session below:

emwave-2-review-games-balloon1

 

At first, my coherence score was in the “blue zone” so my balloon was struggling a bit to stay up in the air, but as you can see from the next screenshot, I raised my coherence to the “green zone” and my balloon started to get some elevation!

emwave-2-review-games-balloon2

 

I won't show this again for all the games I'm describing below, but with all the games you play, your data in terms of the actual HRV over time, and your accumulate score, etc is all stored for that session. It's no different no matter if you are doing the Coherence Coach, the My Inspiration, or any of the other game modes.

emwave2-review-games-results

 

Garden Game

This is probably my least favourite game, but hey, can't like them all I guess. I think this game might appeal to small children possibly, but yeah, apart from using it to show you how it works here below, I basically never use this particular game.

The aim of the game here is to get into high enough coherence for a long enough period to make all the “secret” objects appear (I know, that's what I think too, haha 😀 ). The picture also starts off partially greyed out, and becomes coloured in as you progress.

In the example images below I managed to get into the blue for a few seconds, and so I was blessed with the appearance of the unicorn (highlighted with red circle and arrow just in case anyone cares that I made the Unicorn appear).

emwave2-review-games-garden1

 

emwave2-review-games-garden2

 

Rainbow Game

Staying true to the tale that there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, this game aims to get you to make the rainbow nicely formed and full so that it shows anyone nearby just where they can find said pot of gold! Fairly straight forward really, and as you can see below, it didn't take too much effort for me to get that rainbow cranking at nearly 60% power!

emwave2-review-games-rainbow1

 

emwave2-review-games-rainbow2

 

Healing Hands Visualizer

This visualizer shows this pair of hands, and it simply has some coloured lights moving off the hands, depending on what level of coherence you are currently measuring in. Not really much to it, I wouldn't really use this one personally, because I find the music to be very “80s” and cheesy, and it's annoying to me. Each to their own.

One good feature to mention here is that all of the games have included is that you can set the audio to play your own music in the background. so if there is a game that you really like except for the music, this is a great work around.
Portal Of Care Visualizer

Again the music puts me off of using this one. But if I really found the coloured call inspirational and it worked for me to help me get into high coherence I would use it with my own soundtrack, just the same as with the Healing Hands Visualizer. I personally think this one is a bit boring and would rather look at pictures of dogs or something cute.

 

Child's Heart Visualizer

This visualizer I think is a little better and is something I might use in the future. The music is still very similar and so not my preference but that's not a problem seeing as you can modify the music to whatever you like as we've already discussed.

Basically the colours of whatever coherence state you are in emanate from the child boy's heart towards the planet Earth (seemingly). One of the only visualizers I might actually use in the future.

Star Fire Visualizer

Another one I don't mind, the colours of your level of coherence emanate from the star in the center. I generally find all things around the idea of space, planets and stars pretty awe inspiring so this is one that I could see myself potentially using, although it's hard to compete with the other games I mentioned first, My Inspiration and the Coherence Coach.

Feature #3.4 – Personalized Sessions (My Inspiration)

Not only do you have the assistance of the Coherence Coach and HeartMath games center to help you get in the flow of creating higher heart coherence, but you can also create your own customized experiences by selecting a combination of audio and images that personally resonate with you, and listening and watching (a slideshow) that as you practice trying to increase your HRV and monitoring your progress with the Emwave2.

This is one of my favourite ways to practice increasing coherence, because I think the things that allow us to raise our coherence level and get into that good emotional state are really very unique, and different for us all. For that reason I think it was very wise of the folk at HeartMath to cater for our differing tastes on what gets our heart opening.

I personally love dogs for example, so sometimes I'll setup some of my favourite heart warming music, and some pictures of dogs that make me internally go “nawwwwww” and away I go, hitting those higher heart coherence scores! (it doesn't always work, but hey, it's better than the garden game haha).

You access the My Inspiration via the rest of the games, and then as you can see, it just gives you the instructions on how to set it up with your images and music of choice.

emwave2-review-my-inspiration-personalized

Feature #3.5 – emWave Library

The emWave Library is basically all you will ever need when it comes to learning about not only the emWave2 software and how to use it, but also a huge resource for understanding heart rate variability and coherence training itself. With all sorts of sections going from the Library Tour, to emWave2 Handheld videos (instructional videos on how to use the device) to Fun Heart Science videos.

There is basically nothing they have left out in this help library, and  if there is I haven't noticed yet. I think it's really important for a product like the emWave2 to deliver when it comes to user support, and I feel they've done that very well with this Library section.

emwave2-review-library-1

 

emwave2-review-library-2

 

emwave2-review-library-3

emwave2-review-library-4

Feature #3.6 – Review Progress

This is one of the most important features, as it allows you to monitor your progress over time and contains a map of your sessions. Each overall score as seen below for that particular session is clickable, which will then take you to the session view record for that particular session.

emwave2-review-session-review1

 

emwave2-review-session-review2

So this is a really great part of the software suite which basically acts as your graphical progress and session details library, if you will. You can very quickly look at your sessions over the past say 30-60 days, and see if you're making any progress by looking at your overall score or average coherence levels (see images below for clarification).

Now don't be too disheartened if you don't see a steep incline showing that you're mastering your HRV and coherence scores quickly, because this process can take time.

Feature #3.7 – Session View

This is where you can see the most specific details for any sessions that you've logged in the past, and it's also where you can watch your session live as you record it with the emWave2. This is probably the most exciting and interesting part of the software to get familiar with when you first get your emWave.

When using the session view live, you can see the line representing your HRV moving up and down the BPM (beats per minute) axis, and across as time progresses (1:30 for 1 minute 30 seconds, etc). Also, by default the software will give you 3 different toned bells that will alert you to which coherence level you are currently in (Red, Blue or Green – Green being the highest coherence colour level you can achieve).

As you can see in the image below, the main areas on this screen are the graphical HRV representation we just discussed, the Accumulated Score graph, and the Coherence Ratio meters, which will show the percentages that you stayed in Red, Blue or Green for that session, and this is being updated in real time while live as well.

emwave2-review-session-view

There are also a bunch of other details as you can see on the right, which give you more precise session information, such as the session date, what time exactly you started the session, session length, etc.

I think the user interface here is really good, and this area of the software does everything you would expect, with good easy to use presentation.

Feature #3.8 – Journal and Mood Logging

This feature is also a welcome addition and makes a lot of sense if you're trying to keep track of the different lifestyle factors and current happenings in your life that are affecting the outcome of your sessions.

It also allows you to input your mood, which I think makes sense if you want to quickly look at a bunch of sessions and see how your mood was over time, and how that might have impacted your scores. The mood categories are Excited, Happy, Peaceful, Content, Sad, Bored, Anxious, Angry or No mood.

emwave2-review-journal-mood

Feature #3.9 – Mandala

The mandala is really just another graphical representation of how your session shows up in terms of your coherence levels over time, and your HRV in general. The mandala feature can be used in both real time, and as a way to review your past session data.

I feel it's another good option, though maybe not really necessary as there's already a great overview of the data in both the Session View and Review Progress areas of the software. Here's what it looks like in any case:

emwave2-review-mandala

 

Some Potential Issues I Have With The Emwave2

Now, firstly I want to say, I created this section really just to report on ANYTHING that I have to grouch about in regards to the Emwave2. Ultimately as you can probably tell by this point, I think it's a pretty amazing piece of technology and I'm very much a supporter of what the folks at HeartMath have achieved up until this point, and there continuing work in this field.

That being said, here's my minor grievances against the device, listed then with a brief description on each:

  • It's an electronic device (silly I know)
  • Slightly confusing button functions
  • Freezing software (sometimes)

It's An Electronic Device

Well, given my continuing education on the long term negative health consequences of EMFs and being surrounded by ambient man made electronic fields all the time, I'm honestly now not that excited to have to clip another electric device to my ear (or conversely, hold the device in my hand to use the finger hold method of gathering HRV).

I know, I'm griping, but it's an issue for me these days. That being said, I think the EMF created by such a small battery operated device are going to be very minor, so for now I'm happy to continue using the device, especially seeing as the overall goal is to learn how to identify being able to do this process internally, and then not needing the device at all really long term.

Slightly Confusing Button Functions

Again, not a deal breaker by any means, but the fact that there is only 2 buttons to carry out multiple different functions is slightly annoying. I'm sure this was done purposefully to keep the hardware extremely compact, which they've done a great job with.

I will say, the confusion using the buttons is generally only experienced when you're a newby using it, and after you've watched the instructional videos a few times around on how to access the varying features with the 2 buttons, you shouldn't have too many problems.

On a related note, I do occasionally notice that I have trouble getting into the correct mode, like there's some trouble with the buttons registering that I'm pushing them or similar, but again this is a minor grouch, as it's not something that happens very often.

Freezing Software

I currently run Windows 7 Professional (Windows 7 Home Premium previously), with 3GB of Ram, and I have noticed in the past that there was some random freezing of the software, which would annoy the hell out of me.

However I have recently reinstalled windows on my computer, and basically minimized everything so I am not storing much on the computer's hard disk itself, but on external drives. My computer is freed up of a lot of space, and this seems to have resolved most of these issues.

I think that if you're running anything equal to 3GB of RAM and your system is not too clogged up with other software, etc, then you should be fine.

So as you can see, there's not a whole bunch that I could honestly find to complain about with the Emwave. I think they've done a pretty good job, and aside from the fact the button functionality is a little confusing, I don't really have any  requests in terms of upgrades for the actual hardware.

The software seems to be continually improving too, so they are well committed to making sure it's bugs are worked out, and looking for ways to improve it consistently (which is what I'd expect given the success they have had marketing the device and it's currently largely expanding popularity in the “biohacking world”)

Common Questions About The Emwave 2 And HRV

Here's where we'll take a look at some of the more frequently asked questions around not only the Emwave2, but also regarding heart rate variability in general.

What Does the Emwave2 Measure?

Heart rate coherence or heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is a measurement of the variability between heart beats and has been shown to be a biomarker related to many different health factors and longevity.

How to Use an Emwave2

Apart from reading up on a lot of the information already found on this page, to make it simple to see what this device is about, and simply demonstrate how it works on a very practical level, I created this quick demo of myself using the Emwave2. LINK

Where to Buy an Emwave2

I've created a resource section on this page for people who are interested in purchasing the Emwave2. Please check that out by clicking here. LINK

How Does Emwave2 Work

In extremely simplistic terms, It measures your heart rate and then works out the variability in beats, and then feeds that data into an algorithm to determine your heart rate variability levels over time.

Is There an Emwave2 App for Android?

Yes, but it's not called the Emwave it's called “Inner Balance”. Whilst I have not personally used this myself, I've heard many positive anecdotal reports that people have found it worth while. You can find it here LINK.

How Do I Use the Emwave2 for an Iphone?

You need to get the Inner Balance app and hardware, which you can find here. LINK

Where Is Emwave2 Found for Sale?

I created a whole section on this for people looking to buy an Emwave2 online. Please see it here. LINK

Is There a Way to Use the Emwave2 for an Ipad?

No, but you can use the Inner Balance hardware/app combination and run it just fine from your iPad.

Where Can I Get an Emwave2 Coupon Code?

I haven't been able to source any yet, but if that changes, this section will be updated.

Where Is the Research Proving That the Emwave2 Works?

There's tonnes of research behind low heart rate variability and it's various connections to different states of disease, please see the section on this page showing a few of these different published studies. LINK

What Are the Emwave2 Games?

There are several different games that you can play within the Emwave2 software. I have created a detailed overview of these games here. LINK

What Do I Do for an Emwave 2 Battery Replacement?

On the heartmath.com website they state the battery as being a high quality Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, and that under normal use it shouldn't require any replacement for approximately 5 years. That being said if you do have issues with your battery and need to replace it, you can find all the details on how to do that here.

What Alternatives Are There to the Emwave2?

There are a few different options for heart rate variability training currently on the marketplace, because there are a few different products you can consider, I've created the section The Emwave2 Compared To Other HRV Training Devices LINK (click the link to go to that section now).

How Does the Emwave2 Training Work?

You learn to get into a state known as coherence or Physiological coherence by practicing with the Emwave2 device attached to your body via an ear clip or by holding the device itself. You get into coherence by practicing one or many of the techniques taught by the HeartMath institute, such as the “Quick Coherence Technique”. You can read up on the rest of this page, or see the video here of me doing a live demo of the process. LINK

Where Can I Find Emwave2 Reviews?

I've created a separate section on this page here for those interested in reading other people's feedback on the emWave2. LINK

Video Demo Of Me Personally Using The Emwave2

Coming soon, please stay tuned for some live action 🙂

The Best Places To Buy An Emwave2

You have a few different options for purchasing an Emwave2 if you've decided that it's for you. I've listed your options below:

  • Amazon
  • HeartMath (coming soon)
The Emwave2 Compared To Other HRV Training Devices

Emwave Vs Emwave2

emwave-1-originalThe emwave no longer exists and has been replaced by the Emwave2. So unless you could find an old version on something like ebay.com, then you'll probably have to go with the Emwave2.

I wouldn't recommend trying to get an old one simply for the plain fact that you won't have the latest software, not to mention driver issues, and missing out on all the latest features and technology built into the hardware and software of the Emwave2.

You may also have been thinking of the Emwave2 Vs Emwave Pro software suite. Most people will only need the Emwave2 software, but you can find out about the specific differences between the 2 softwares here on the heartmath site.

Emwave2 Vs Stresseraser

After doing some research into the stresseraser, it seems this product is fairly outdated, just assuming that from the website here. The webpage I see for that link is not only showing broken images, but it also appears to last have had design updates in 1999.

I personally wouldn't trust a product with such an outdated website, that is if it is even still available. That's just my opinion from what I could find on it so far, I obviously have no personal experience with the product, so take my opinion with a grain of salt on this one.

Bioforce Hrv Vs Emwave2

The Bioforce HRV is a similar system, though it's really geared towards people who want to use and integrated their HRV results into their fitness or training program. It basically gives you a score measured in Green, Amber, or Red.

Based on your current score you should decide whether to train hard (if your reading is in the Green), or to train with less than 100% intensity (if in the Amber), or just not to train at all if you're in the Red which means that your body is a bit run down and you're more likely to either experience over training, or worse yet injure yourself.

 

bioforce-hrv

 

The system is composed of a bluetooth 4.0 HRV transmitter, a newer finger sensor, a phone application a little similar to the Inner Balance app from HeartMath, and computer software for your desktop or laptop computer to monitor your progress more thoroughly and see platuea periods in your training, etc.

It seems the emWave2 has more in the way of training options, like we've discussed above with the different games, the Coherence Coach, etc. The price difference is within $50 USD, so they are both within a similar range.

The feedback on the Bioforce seems to be pretty positive, though I couldn't find that much comparing it to the Emwave, and it doesn't seem to be as popular from the feedback online at least. That being said, if you're more looking to get HRV data for the purpose of improving your training or fitness program efficiency and results, then this could be exactly what you need.

Emwave2 Vs Resperate

It seems that the RESPeRATE was at one point a HRV training product,but is no longer available. There is now another product of the same name, but that's todo with lowering blood pressure, and I don't think it's the same thing.

Emwave2 Vs Wild Divine

Again, unfortunately this looks like another outdated product that hasn't been kept current. Looking at their website here and the products they are offering, they look very outdated. I could be wrong, and please be aware that I have not personally used their product, but just from initial impressions again, it doesn't look like something I would want to invest my money in compared to the emWave2 that's very up to date as of 2016, and under constant development and improvement.

Emwave2 Vs Emwave Desktop

The Emwave Desktop seems to be an outdated and replaced version of the current top shelf version of the Emwave software – Emwave Pro.

Emwave2 Vs Inner Balance

The Emwave2 is a separate device, along with desktop software. The Inner Balance is a USB powered ear clip connection that works for your android or iphone along with the Inner Balance app.

In terms of a detailed breakdown of the difference between the two in terms of usage, I can't comment yet personally as I haven't yet used Inner Balance. Please keep an eye out for an update on this in the future though.

Emwave2 Vs Emwave Pro

The Emwave2 and Emwave Pro are basically 2 different versions of similar software, but the Emwave Pro is designed for use by professionals or serious users. For example if you were a certified HeartMath coach, you would probably want to have a copy of the Emwave Pro setup, so that you could manage multiple users/sessions for clients, etc.

More information on the difference between these 2 software versions for the Emwave can be found here.

Reviews and Feedback On The Emwave2 From Others

Currently being updated, please check back shortly 🙂

The Final Verdict – Is It Worth The Money?

Still wondering what my verdict is on the Emwave2? I think it's going to be reasonably obvious that I'm a fan seeing as I spent the time and effort to write this huge review on my experiences with the product.

As I mentioned right at the start when discussing my initial perceptions, I believe that HRV training is one of the most exciting recent developments in the arena of personal health and well being, and the fact that there's a LOT of science behind the health implications of improving one's heart rate variability only lends to my level of enthusiasm.

There are some minor gripes I have with the hardware/software, which I mentioned above (like the confusion of using just 2 buttons for multiple different menu selections for example), but they are MINOR.

I love the fact that you can track your progress over time and I feel that this is one of the most valuable aspects of the software, because it's so well matched to my personal beliefs in what makes for successful practices and goals (the ability to track progress, and making small actions count towards long term goals with rewards, accountability, etc – see my post here for some more related tips on productivity and goal management)

CLICK HERE To View The Current Price On Amazon

 

I love the “community aspect” of using the HeartCloud, and I think that's created a powerful way for people to feel connected and like they are working on a common goal with others to improve themselves, which again works well for increasing accountability and getting people to stay focused on accomplishing their practice goals.

Lastly, apart from the fact that there's already a tonne of research around heart rate variability and it's health impacts, I'm really pleased to see that HeartMath's work is continuing in this area, and they seem to be pretty committed to not only spreading the message about this powerful tool, but also continuing to back things up with science, which is always a plus.

Some Other Good HRV Related Resources

From my research into this topic, I've since found that there are a number of good additional resources that you might want to  look into if you are interested in the idea of further emmersing yourself in the world of HRV.

Namely, the 2 additional resources that I highly recommend looking into are:

  • Further Reading Material
  • HRV Personalized Coaching

Further Reading

There are a number of great books on the science and application of heart rate variability. Many of these books are authored by founders or co-operative owners of the heartmath foundation themselves.

The books that I can recommend you read based on having personally read them myself back when I was really studying heart rate variability a LOT, are the following:

The HeartMath Solution (amz link) – This is a really good overview and outlining of what heartmath's research and technology (with the Emwave2) have to offer, and how it can be applied to an array of different mental, emotional and spiritual issues.

Transforming Stress (amz link) – This book goes into a lot more specific detail than the HeartMath Solution does, and will provide you with a much more comprehensive “how to” approach if you are wanting to focus on using the HeartMath approach to work on the area of “stress” in general in your life.

Transforming Anxiety (amz link) – This is a similar book to Transforming Stress, and if you have anxiety it's a worth a read. It has a lot of similarity to said above book, but it's a little different so worthy of reading even if you have already read Transform Stress. Again there are a lot of anxiety relief specific focused exercises in this book, using the HeartMath methodology.

Heart Rate Variability Personalized Coaching

This is not something that I've yet personally ventured into, though I feel it's definitely something that's worth a look, especially if you have already been using the Emwave2 or InnerBalance technology for a while, read a few of the books like listed above, but feel a bit stuck with your progress.

As you can tell from reading this page and review of the Emwave, I think the science behind HeartMath's work speaks for itself, and what you have with the Emwave and coherence training in general is very very powerful, but having said that, it can be very helpful in terms of feeling supported and strong with your practice to have someone experienced and qualified in this area to help you make progress with your specific goals.

Discussions From Other Emwave2 Users and HRV Enthusiasts

what-about-youHere's where we'll be discussing your personal experience or thoughts on using the Emwave2, whether you're an interested reader who's merely toying with the idea of purchasing such a device, or you've been consistently practicing with the Emwave to increase your personal coherence scores for a while now over time.

I think it's valuable to have feedback on what this software does, and the science and theory behind it, so please feel free to comment in the comment area below the reference section. I look forward to you joining the discussion!

References
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_rate_variability#Clinical_significance
  2. http://www.heartmath.com/science-behind-emwave/
  3. Currently being updated, please check back soon!
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Nick Earl

About The Author - Founder at Healthvibed.com, Nick is passionate about learning and implementing all information related to achieving optimum health.

He's since made it his mission to learn, live and share these principles, many of which you can find on this blog.

Read more of Nick's personal story here, as well as our mission here on this site, here.

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