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How Two Sisters are Using Embrace to Stay Close, Even While Apart

When talking to Aly and Emma, it doesn’t take long to realize that these sisters share a special bond. Catching up with them over the phone from their respective houses in the Pacific Northwest, at times it felt like I was interrupting one of their many ongoing phone conversations. They weren’t being disrespectful — as with many close siblings --it was like Aly and Emma had a language of their own.

Aly and Emma grew up in a family with six kids, where Emma, 25, was the youngest and Aly was in the middle, nine years Emma’s senior. “Our family is ridiculously close,” Aly said. “They are absolutely everything to us.” 

Around nine years ago, when Emma was just 15, their mother passed away. “Aly become a huge role model for me,” Emma recalled. “She was there for me for all the steps of becoming an adult. She taught me the ropes of how to survive in the world, she helped me get through college.” 

Alyssa cooling down with Embr Wave at home

Aly and Emma have remained close throughout the years, living together on and off, but always staying in a similar area of the Pacific Northwest. Beyond physical proximity, the pair have bonded over their shared health issues. Aly has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and a few years ago, Emma was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. Like many people who live with chronic illnesses, the experience of managing the various symptoms and struggles of long-term health issues could feel isolating for both of them. However, having one another to commiserate with was a huge help. “We always joke that there is no one else that we’d rather be disabled and reading books with,” Emma said. 

One of the symptoms that Aly and Emma have bonded over has been temperature regulation. “It’s so hard to function when you’re practically aching because of how cold you are,” Aly explained. Emma expressed similar issues, as Reynauds, a syndrome that causes poor circulation in the hands and feet, is one of the conditions she deals with.

Aly’s husband found the Embr Wave not long after it launched in 2018, and it was a huge help. When Emma would come over, she would use Aly’s Wave. “It was like I was constantly just stealing the Wave off of her wrist,” said Emma. She eventually got one herself. “When I’m sitting in a hospital for blood infusions, it’s an absolute game-changer. It just helps me feel so much more comfortable.” 

Not long ago, Emma moved about an hour away from Aly. While the two remained in the same region, it was the farthest apart they’d been from each other. When the pandemic hit, like many families, their ability to see each other became limited. With chronic illnesses, the risks associated with travel were far greater than before. For Emma, the challenges brought on by social distancing only increased when her fiance got deployed. “We both deal with anxiety and depression,” the two explained. “The pandemic has made all of this much harder.” 

In October, Embr Labs released a new feature called Embrace™, which allows Wavers to send and receive warming sensations to other people who have Embr Wave. The Embr team created the feature with people like Aly and Emma in mind — those who are unable to physically be with their loved ones, but still want to feel close with them.

Emma and Pretzel Waving together

“The Embrace feature has been absolutely amazing for us.” Aly said. “I can’t begin to explain to you how good it feels.” Both of them described how the physical sensations meant so much more than just simply getting a text message or phone call. “Words on a screen are so hollow. We are so ingrained in our phones all of the time that texts just popping don’t feel at all personal. It’s so different than that. It gets me so warm and fuzzy.” 

Emma noted that getting a little note along with the touch sensation adds something special. “Waking up to a little note from Aly that says ‘I love you’ is so amazing.” 

“It’s grounding,” Aly said. “It just keeps you in the present moment, instead of thinking about what will happen and what has happened. It’s like someone holding your hand and telling you that everything is going to be okay.” 

Over the course of the interview, Aly and Emma kept reiterating how grateful they were for their family and the fact that they now had a new way to connect with one another. Things are still up in the air about how and when they’ll be able to connect more regularly in person, but for now, they are appreciative of the fact that they still are finding ways to feel close despite being apart. 

As the conversation wound down, there was a long silence where no one was sure who was going to speak next, a feeling many of us have become accustomed to like so much of our communication has moved online. Aly finally broke it. “I love you Emma,” she said. “And I’m going to kick your butt when we play Mortal Kombat online together later.”

Aly and Emma, a few years ago.