A planet that is so harsh that its inhabitants wear climate-controlled suits when outside sounds like science fiction. What if that planet was Earth? Earth is growing warmer over time and making it harder to be livable. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, the last three decades on Earth have each been hotter than the last. This hasn’t happened since 1850.
The reason that we spend the summer in our climate-controlled offices and homes is obvious. We can breathe better and be more comfortable. The ironic thing is that the reliance on air conditioning systems heats the atmosphere more because of the fossil fuels that run them. When we do go outside in extreme heat, we need to prepare. We run the air conditioner in the car, bring water with us and dress light. Soon we could have to suit up to be outside.
The race for tech companies to create wearable air conditioning systems has been ongoing. The best part is that these companies have no intention of having people walk around in bulky suits during extreme heat. One of the most well-known is called the Reon Pocket. This is a device that Sony had crowdfunded and is worn under your clothes.
The Reon Pocket is a small battery-powered device that sits against the base of a person's neck and under their shirt. This is called the Peltier effect, which occurs when two different conductors have electric currents flow across them. This allows one side to heat up, while the other cools. French physicist Jean C. A. Peltier was the one who noticed this back in 1830. A good example of this is a reverse hot pocket. Another plus is this air conditioner device has no moving parts or fluids. The battery can last around two hours before needing a charge. Since this device is battery operated, there will likely be advances with it.
Another device called the Embr Wave was created by MIT scientists. This device doesn’t focus on your body, but your mind. The interesting thing about it is that it doesn’t lower the body temperature. The device heats and cools one part of your body without doing anything to your core temperature. This can increase your overall comfort. A good example of this is coming in from the cold and putting your hands on a warm mug. After a study from UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment, their findings say that a person can feel about 5 degrees cooler with the Embr Wave on.
While the Embr Wave is the most environmentally safe option, it won’t save lives during a heatwave. It does find a simple solution to humidity though. The traditional air conditioning systems use refrigerants, compressors and condensers. It uses a lot of fossil fuels to keep your home comfortable and the offices cold during the summer. Targeting certain parts of the body are a much more efficient way to stay cool. You could even use it at home and turn off the air conditioner for a bit.