Apollo Neuro Crackberry HeroSource: CrackBerry Kevin

Yes, this post definitely is about a wearable vibrator. But ... no, it's not that kind of vibrator!

I'm talking about the Apollo Neuro, a weird and wonderful wearable that you probably haven't heard of but that could change your life. This is especially true if you're a person who has trouble sleeping, suffers from anxiety, or finds it hard to focus on a task or stay engaged on Zoom calls. If any of that resonates with you, you may want to give Apollo Neuro a try.

If you've been following my Top 22 Favorite Tech Things of 2022 posts, you may have picked up on a theme: self-improvement. The last couple of years have been weird for all of us, and they definitely took their toll on ol' CrackBerry Kevin. For me, the start of the pandemic was anxiety-inducing; the lockdowns and forced business closures led to a lack of physical activity, combined with way too much eating and way, way, way too much boozing; and the lack of a regular day job allowed me to fill my time with too much social-media scrolling.

Coming into 2022, I realized I had to get my mojo back, and I tried a lot of things earlier in the year to get some momentum going. A lot of them did not work, while other things have become permanent fixtures in my ongoing toolkit of becoming and staying awesome. I've already talked about the Punkt MP02 dumb phone, which helped me gain control over my screentime abuse and made me realize I'm actually still smart (relatively). And my commitment and ongoing mission to monotask whenever possible is making my life more productive, and enjoyable, and it makes each day feel much longer (which is a good thing when you start to get older!).

The Apollo Neuro isn't a gadget I was looking for, but when I heard about it I figured what the hell, I'll give it a try,. even though the product claims and the way it works kind of sounded like snake-oil magik. Lo and behold, I've been using it since April and continue to use it daily. This crazy gadget works for me. And when I don't use it, I notice it. That alone earned the Apollo Neuro a place on my list of tech faves.

What the hell is Apollo Neuro?

Apollo Neuro AppSource: Apollo Neuro

Good question. That's what I asked myself when I first heard the name Apollo Neuro. I heard about the company from a friend and former #TeamBlackBerry employee who told me about the product. We were catching up, and she said she took a new job and was going to start working for Apollo Neuro on the company's marketing and customer experience team.

This is not a quote, but the explanation she originally gave me went something like this

It's a wearable, but not in the sense of a Fitbit or Apple Watch or Oura ring that is trying to track data from your activity or is using sensors to figure out what's happening inside you. Instead, it's a wearable that actually works from the outside to influence what's happening inside you. You use the Apollo Neuro app on your phone to turn the Apollo Neuro on for different physiological states you want to achieve such as Energy, Focus, Relaxing, or Sleeping. From there you select the time and intensity of the program and the device comes to life with a pulsing vibration. Each state is programmed with a different pattern or sequence of vibrations that help tune your nervous system for that activity.

Sounds cool, right? It set off my woo-woo detectors. I was skeptical of course, as I think everyone who comes across a product like this initially would be. My friend explained she only accepted the job offer after she did a ton of homework on the product and actually tried it out for a while, too, until she became a believer. Turns out there is a lot of science backing the way Apollo Neuro works and the team behind it put in years of hard work to bring it to market. It has since been awarded multiple patents around some of this science-magic relating to "transcutaneous vibration".

This video from Apollo Neuro provides an overview of what that vibrating on the outside does to your insides:

By the time we were done that conversation, I figured what the hell, I'm going to give this thing a try. At US$399, it's not cheap, but given I've been known to spend $500 on a clock app (true story), even if it turned out to be hot garbage I wouldn't feel too bad about it.

Where to wear the Apollo Neuro

Apollo Neuro Crackberry RelaxSource: CrackBerry Kevin

When my Apollo Neuro arrived a few days later, I had to decide where on my body to wear it. On the company's website, you see it typically donned in a few spots: wrist, ankle, or with a clip-on accessory attached to your clothing. Given that I'm a watch guy who these days has an Apple Watch Ultra glued to his left wrist, I went for the ankle.

My wife says I look like I'm on house arrest while wearing it, and she's not wrong. I've worn it out of the house too — when wearing pants nobody sees it. When showing some skin at the gym it's received a few weird stares and turned into some conversations with inquisitive people, which I'm OK with. Worn on an ankle, it's definitely a conversation starter!

Given the US$399 price tag, it's a lot of money for what appears to me to be pretty basic hardware. And it doesn't do a whole lot since you just wear it and engage with the app. Given the output is a vibration, it makes me wonder if you could build it into other hardware — maybe just build an app for my Apple Watch Ultra that does the same thing.

The Apollo Neuro hardware is fine, but it feels slightly ... like a v1 product. I could see future iterations being thinner with even more battery life. I haven't taken it apart, but it's pretty easy to guess what's taking up the bulk of the space: battery, motor (for vibrating), and some electronics to allow you to charge it (via micro USB) and for it to connect via Bluetooth back to your phone. At scale, the hardware costs on this cannot be much, and it feels like there is a bit of a tax because it's a health product. All things considered, the price doesn't seem too high. These days everything is pricey — heck, the cost of basic supplements like Athletic Greens AG1 set you back $99 for a month, most of which is margin that goes to pay for marketing (product cost is under $10). For health products like this, it tends to come down to perceived versus realized benefits. If it works, or you feel it's working, the dollars spent are negligible.

The sleep-deprived benefit most from Apollo Neuro

Apollo Neuro Sleep CrackberrySource: CrackBerry Kevin

While the app features seven programs, the majority of the Apollo Neuro website messaging and marketing speaks to people who have trouble getting a good night's sleep.

I'm typically a solid sleeper; only in the last couple of years have I more regularly been finding myself unable to easily fall asleep or waking up in the middle of the night. When I find that's the case, I'll put on the Apollo Neuro, set it for 120 minutes at a 88 percent intensity for good luck, and without fail, I'm able to get more ZZZZZZs.

For people who truly suffer from a debilitating lack of sleep, this is where Apollo Neuro appears to really shine, and the company has built a community of happy customers, the testimonials of which are very compelling. I've known a few people who have suffered from this, and when you're unable to get a good night's sleep, you're willing to try anything and spend anything to make that happen. So if you are that person, or know that person, see if they have tried Apollo Neuro. If not, point them to this post. And, hey, if it works for them be sure to let me know.

You can also use Apollo Neuro in conjunction with your other sleep-tracking gadgets to see an actual, measured impact on your sleep. The Apollo Neuro app even allows you to connect it to your Oura Ring so you can more easily track that data and see the impact. Measurable results and features like this are what help validate that this is science-backed and actually works. On the note of the Oura Ring, that was another gadget I bought this year and started wearing. I have a few friends who love it and have been wearing it since it came out. Personally, I can't stand it. I don't like having a ring on my fingers when I'm sleeping or at the computer typing, and I especially dislike it when I'm lifting weights (don't Google "degloving"… you will never unsee it).

How I use Apollo Neuro

Apollo Neuro Crackberry GymSource: CrackBerry Kevin

Since I'm a pretty sound sleeper, I find I only wear my Apollo Neuro in bed maybe five or six times a month. I put in on proactively if I've done something dumb that I think is going to keep me up that night: a late night meal or caffeine hit late in the day, or if I'm worried about something.

I use it most in the morning. If I don't wake up with it already on my ankle, I grab it from my nightstand first thing, and I run the Energy and Wake Up program for 30 minutes. I find this gets my body going even better than a doppio espresso. According to DNA tests I've done in the past, I'm a fast burner of caffeine and like a lot of people, I probably consume way too much of it. What I've found since wearing the Apollo Neuro is that I've been easily able to cut back my espresso intake to two a day. I almost think I could cut it out altogether, but I love the ritual of coffee too much to take it out of my life. I like to wear Apollo Neuro during workouts, too, especially on the days when I'm running interval sprints up an incline treadmill.

The other program I run most often is called Clear and Focused. This is the productivity one, and I'll use it during the day when I'm working at the computer or when my calendar is booked for a lot of meetings. Whether it's the science-backed magic or the Apollo Neuro or placebo effect, I'm not sure, but I definitely get myself into the zone and stay there while it's doing its light-buzzing thing. I also contribute some of my gains in this department to my implementation of monotasking this year, so I'll admit it's a little tricky to measure the results on this one.

The proof is in the pudding, though, and in this case, the proof comes from me continuing to use the Apollo Neuro. This crazy thing just works!

If you want to pick one up for yourself, it comes in a bunch of colors and strap options, and you can buy it from ApolloNeuro.com.