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Researchers at MIT have come up with something incredible, a bracelet that regulates your body temperature. Literally meaning that this wristband replaces your AC, your heating system and even your jacket.
Wristify, as they call their device, is a thermoelectric bracelet that regulates the temperature of the person wearing it by subjecting their skin to alternating pulses of hot or cold, depending on what’s needed. The prototype recently won first place at this year’s MADMEC, an annual competition put on by the school’s Materials Science and Engineering program, netting the group a $10,000 prize, which they’ll use to continue its development. It’s a promising start to a clever approach that could help alleviate the energy crisis.
Wristify, is based on the fact that heating or cooling parts of the skin can help influence how hot or cold we feel over our entire body. As human beings we are not entirely accurate thermometers and spend a lot of our time simply adapting to our surroundings.
Wristify takes advantage of this, with the technology working via custom copper-alloy heat sink that delivers thermal pulses to the skin, powered for eight hours at a time by a lithium polymer battery.
In building the prototype, Shames and his co-inventors–Mike Gibson, a second-year Ph.D. student; David Cohen-Tanugi, a fourth-year Ph.D. student, and Matt Smith, a postdoctoral researcher–had the challenge of figuring out how to best exploit that perceptual tick. The research suggested that anything with a temperature change greater than 0.1 degree Celsius per second would produce the effect. Their wristband, which harnesses thermoelectrics to both heat and cool a patch of skin, is capable of changing that surface at a rate of 0.4 degrees Celsius per second.
“What we developed is a wearable, wrist-based technology that leverages human sensitivity, can detect and perfect rates of change, and can maintain overall thermal comfort while reducing the need to heat and cool buildings,” said Sam Shames, a materials science and engineering student and one of Wristify’s inventors.