Engineers are making a personal heating/cooling system you can wear


  • Tech News
  • Saturday, 25 May 2019

Engineers at the University of California have succeeded in creating a wearable patch that can cools or heat the wearer's skin to the temperature that is most comfortable to them. — dpa

Are you always cold? Or always hot? Do you ever find yourself in an argument with someone over whether the heating should be turned up or down?

If this sounds familiar, then maybe you'd like to hear that researchers are developing new tech that could one day see us all wearing personalised heating and cooling systems.

Engineers at the University of California have succeeded in creating a wearable patch that can cools or heat the wearer's skin to the temperature that is most comfortable to them. And even better, as the outside temperature adjusts, the patch does as well.

Developers say the mobile temperature system is also designed to be comfortable to wear, as it is lightweight and flexible, and is made out of thermoelectric alloys, which use an electric current to create temperature.

"You could place this on spots that tend to warm up or cool down faster than the rest of the body, such as the back, neck, feet or arms, in order to stay comfortable when it gets too hot or cold," said lead author Sahngki Hong, who is a mechanical engineer.

The creation of this fairly small patch is only the first step, however. The main objective of the team of researchers is to be able to create a material out of multiple patches that can be placed inside everyday clothing.

Another huge bonus out of this research could be in saving energy: At the moment, we use huge amounts of energy heating and cooling our homes – but if every individual were decked out with their own personalised thermostat, that could make a huge difference. The engineers estimate that in the summer, it could cut cooling costs by 70%.

However, this is all still a few years away at least. "We've solved the fundamental problems, now we're tackling the big engineering issues – the electronics, hardware, and developing a mobile app to control the temperature," explains Renkun Chen, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the university. – dpa
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