Consumerism Reports: My $199 Orb

Will it heal me?

Woman in white holding The Reflect Orb in front of her.
hello orb
Consumerism Reports

Welcome to Consumerism Reports, a recurring series about all of Claire Carusillo’s devices and products. I, Kelly Conaboy, am taking over for Claire this week to talk about my orb.

Every little girl dreams of her future orb. Will it be porcelain, glass, or bubble? Will it float, or sit atop a scepter? Will it allow us to see events currently taking place elsewhere, or will it allow us to see events of the future? Or events of the past? Or events that are of neither the future nor the past, but which are merely a fiction used to threaten and coerce a frightened soul we’ve captured, which I think happened in the Wizard of Oz?

My orb, as it turns out, is meditative. It came to me like a dream, via promotional email. The Reflect Orb, which retails for $199, is a “new very unique biofeedback-based product that helps guide the user toward relaxation,” says Reflect. “It can be used daily to find your way to calm in this increasingly manic world.” Finally … my orb had found me.


Why did the gods send me this orb in particular, out of all the world’s precious orbs? Well, it could have something to do with the fact that, even though I have been given one of humanity’s easiest lives, I am stressed to the absolute maximum 100 percent of the time. No matter what I’m doing — typing, sitting, watching reality television — my jaw is clenched and my mood is strained. As I sit stone-faced looking at one of my three main screens, my inner monologue is in a perpetual state of:

OH NO!!!!!!

Indeed, I could use a little relaxation in this, yes, increasingly manic world.

What you do with the Reflect Orb is: hold it. I learned this during an “onboarding” session with a Reflect representative and a Reflect tech specialist. During the session they explained how to sync my orb with my cell phone, so its orb data might download there like wireless magic. I completed this task flawlessly. It seemed my orb journey was off to an auspicious start …

To use the orb, the orb user places her fingers on the orb’s biofeedback finger ridges. Then, a lighted circle on top of the orb alternates (or “breathes” in orb terminology) between various colors, to represent the orb user’s current degree of calmness. The degree is measured by her physiological activity (heart rate and muscular tension), and her physiological activity is measured by those biofeedback ridges. Here is what the colors mean:

Turquoise: Relaxed
White: Calm
Blue: Alert
Purple: Tense

The orb does not move or make any noise during an orb session, or just about ever, except for when it is sending your orb data to your cell phone, at which point it vibrates. The orb’s instructions, beyond holding it, are to breathe. It is essentially an object to hold while you attempt to calm yourself down through breathing. At the end, the object tells you whether or not you succeeded, via a report sent to an app.

I think part of the idea with the orb is that you’re supposed to watch how your degree of calmness changes as you sit and breathe, but watching the orb’s light cycle through non-calm colors did not make me calm; it made me unhappy and mad, which I already am at all times. So I decided I would use my orb exclusively with my eyes closed. That way, it would be a surprise to find out whether or not I was ever calm. Fun :) Here are the results of my first session:

As you can see, during my 11 minutes of orbing, I was calm for a total of 42 seconds. This was surprising, as the number of seconds for which I felt calm was 0. In subsequent sessions, as I held my precious orb and breathed, I watched my amount of app calmness climb. (My body calmness remained steady at 0.)

After a few sessions during which my amount of calmness supposedly increased, I decided to test my orb. To do so, I held it with my eyes open while watching the Today show. The segment was about a group of conservationist teenagers attempting to rebuild some section of devastated rainforest somewhere. At the end of the segment, one of the Today show hosts said something like, “You know, it isn’t too late. We all have to plant more trees.”

While I watched, I thought about whether this host was thinking about something specific when she said “it isn’t too late.” It isn’t too late to what? Stop the destruction of our planet? Stop our own extinction? “Save the rainforest”? A dark thought for the Today show, and likely an incorrect one. The world is in a downward spiral, in just about every imaginable way, and despite our best efforts, if those were to be given, which they are not, I don’t think we’d be able to slow its descent. Even the near future is terrifying to consider, let alone the future in the medium distance. Then I looked at my orb session:

Well, I guess I’m pretty calm about it, anyway. Thank you, orb!