If you’re looking to lower stress, relieve headaches, or take a mindfulness practice to the next level, you may be a good candidate for SmartGoggles by Therabody. Not to be confused with smart swim goggles that track activity in the water, this Bluetooth-enabled eye mask from the Theragun creators uses vibration, massage, and heat to lower your heart rate and promote calmness of body and mind.
Read on to learn how they work, what my experience was like, and who I think would derive the most value from a pair of SmartGoggles.
Therabody makes big claims about the benefits of SmartGoggles. They supposedly reduce stress and anxiety, support restful sleep, soothe headaches, relieve eye strain, lower heart rate, increase circulation, and ease facial tension.
But the company doesn’t reveal how those benefits are supported. I was hopeful that the “Research Studies” tab in the Explore section of the website would offer something useful, but all I found was information about a study called “How a consistent Theragun routine affects sleep and other biometrics.” In other words, not a word about SmartGoggles or those purported benefits.
You can pretty much open the box and start using SmartGoggles right away. Here’s how Therabody recommends getting started: First, remove makeup, glasses, and contact lenses, and make sure your skin is clean and dry. Then, make yourself comfortable. (I typically sprawled out on the carpeted floor of my home office.) Put the goggles on, aligning them with your temples, resting them on the bridge of your nose, and adjust the strap so it’s secure and snug. You’re ready to begin treatment!
To operate SmartGoggles, there are just three buttons to get familiar with. The button on the far right (when the goggles are on your head) turns the unit on and off with long presses. That button also allows you to toggle between three modes — relax, focus, and sleep — with short presses. The symbols next to the button indicate your current mode.
In relax mode (“SmartRelax” in Therabody lingo), the goggles gently massage the eye area in a vibration pattern that reflects your heart rate. In focus mode, you get a combination of the single vibration pattern and heat. And in sleep mode, a gentle massage and slow-wave vibration are supposed to lull you to sleep.
After experimenting with all three modes, I found each one to be pleasant in a different way. There’s something about the massage-heat combo that puts me in a relaxed state, and I did feel like even 10 minutes of treatment was enough to chill me out a bit. Because I typically used the goggles before bedtime, I gravitated toward sleep mode and thought it was a nice way to wind down from a full day.
Heat and vibration
If you’d rather customize your experience than use one of the three preset modes, you can do so using the two buttons on the far left of the goggles (while on your head). Short-press the vibration button to toggle between wave, breathing, and pulse, and short-press the heat button to toggle between low, medium, and high. To stop vibration or heat, long-press the respective button.
Once the device is powered on, treatment starts immediately and lasts around 15 minutes. To ensure the goggles work as intended, during all treatments try to limit your movement, keep your eyes closed, and maintain contact between the heart rate sensor and your cheekbone.
While I most often used one of the preset modes, there were a few occasions when I just wanted heat or to isolate a vibration pattern. In times like those, it’s nice to have full control over your SmartGoggles experience.
Comfort and fit
Just hold a pair of SmartGoggles, and you can see that they’re made of comfortable, high-quality materials (protein leather fabric for the front and interior panels and cotton fabric for the strap). The part that comes into contact with your face is soft and plush, almost like a heavy-duty old-school eye mask.
The fit, however, poses a problem. SmartGoggles are marketed as “one size fits all,” but they definitely fall on the large end of the spectrum. The issue is that the front part is pretty rigid and the only way to adjust the size is by tightening or loosening the strap on the back. As a five-foot woman, I could get the goggles plenty tight, but I never was able to attain that seal I expect from a piece of eyewear. (My six-foot-tall husband had better luck.) For me, the sides felt snug, but the middle portion — basically the whole eye region — hovered a bit above my face no matter how tight I cinched the straps. Not only did that make the goggles borderline uncomfortable, it also prevented me from using them to their full potential.
In the current state, SmartGoggles do not fit every head shape and size. Hopefully, Therabody recognizes that and either designs at least one smaller version or iterates with more form-fitting materials.
In addition to the fit issue, the goggles surprised me by how loud they are — to the point that they can be a little distracting to whoever is using them as well as anyone nearby. For that reason, I stopped using them in bed for fear of keeping or waking up my husband, and instead used them when I had a few minutes to myself. I supposed I could have put a pair of noise-canceling headphones on top of them to eliminate most of the noise for me, but that still might bother my husband, and it also would add friction to the process, which is kind of antithetical to the whole purpose.
Depending on the mode, SmartGoggles hold around 150 minutes of battery life. Given that each treatment lasts approximately 15 minutes, a fully charged battery will get you through 10 treatments. With daily use, you’ll only have to charge them every other week — which isn’t bad. You can probably get away with traveling without the charger too, unless you’re leaving for longer than a week, using them more frequently than average, or keeping them powered on during flights.
They aren’t as sleek as classic eye masks, of course, but SmartGoggles are lightweight and compact enough to still be considered travel-friendly. Each pair weighs less than one pound and folds up to a box that measures about 6.5 inches x 4 inches x 3.5 inches, a perfect fit for the soft case that’s included. The case features a handy pouch inside that you can slip the charging cable into as well.
As with the other Therabody devices, most of which are recovery tools like percussive massage guns and vibrating foam rollers, you can unlock more SmartGoggles features if you download the Therabody app and connect your device. TheraMind is a section of the app that offers short audio sessions meant to help you “stay focused, increase relaxation, and fall asleep.” Again: big claims, with nothing I see to back them up.
To utilize TheraMind, you choose a session in the app (with titles ranging from Find Your Zen to Nightly Wind Down) and listen to it play from your phone while your SmartGoggles operate in a mode created specifically for that session. Reset & Recharge, for example, is 11 minutes long and combines low heat with pulse vibration. The experience is akin to listening to a Calm or Headspace session while getting a heated eye massage at the same time. It’s an interesting concept, for sure, but I personally prefer a relaxation routine that’s phone-free and low-effort. (Bringing an app into the process all but guarantees at least five minutes wasted checking in on messages, social media, and whatnot.)
Go for the Goggles?
Techies looking to level up their mindfulness or relaxation game may absolutely love SmartGoggles. But as much as I like the recovery devices by the same company, I was ultimately underwhelmed by Therabody’s high-tech take on an eye mask. They aren’t a great fit for my small head, they’re loud enough to influence when and where I use them, and their purported benefits aren’t supported by research (that I could find). To be perfectly honest, I’d rather put the $199 they cost toward a Calm or Headspace subscription or a Theragun Mini, which is therapeutic in a different way.