You can’t help but wonder if one day we’ll all be wearing temperature-controlled spacesuits to protect our fragile bodies from raging firestorms resulting from global warming. Worry no more. It’s not perfect – but it’s still pretty cool (ha, see what I did there).
Sony’s Reon Pocket is a slim, palm-sized wearable air conditioner device that you control with your smartphone. It can run for 2-4 hours before requiring a 2-hour charge via its USB-C port. The wearable AC unit presses against the skin and uses the Peltier effect to cool the body.
Peltier cooling differs from traditional compressor/evaporator cooling units. It takes advantage of the Peltier effect – the presence of heating or cooling at an electrified junction of two different conductors. When a current is passed through a junction between two conductors, heat may be generated or removed at the junction. A typical Peltier heat pump has multiple junctions to compound the effect. Some junctions lose heat that can be blown off the device while other junctions gain heat and act as cooling junctions.
The Reon Pocket rests against the skin and is cushioned with a cooled silicone pad. Heat is removed through a small fan that vents warm air out and away from the body. The app lets you control the temperature via three settings and includes an automatic mode that uses temperature and motion sensors to determine what they wearer is doing and adjusts the cooling mode to their desired cooling level.
The Sony Reon Pocket can cool a single point of the body or attached to Sony’s special V-Neck shirts to cool the entire torso. The shirts contain a pocket where the device is inserted to rest between the shoulder blades.
Sony’s says the device can reduce your body surface temperature by 13°C, for example from 36°C (96°F) to 23°C (73.4°F). People who’ve tested the device attest to the claim. Although it’s not akin to standing in a refrigerator, wearers say the device and shirt do help maintain comfort in sweltering heat.
And get this – since the Peltier effect can work in reverse – so does the Reon Pocket. Yes, in the winter it can be used to heat the body by as much as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Right now the Reon Pocket is only available in Japan and runs 13,000 yen ($122). The shirts are a very affordable 1,800 yen ($17) each. Rest assured, I’m trying to get a hold of some to sell on Geek Slop (and to wear here in our sweltering Texas heat).