MIT Students Develop Thermoelectric Bracelet To Cool Your Overclocked Body

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News Posted: Thu, Oct 17 2013 10:10 AM
Everyone perceives warmth or coldness a bit differently; for proof, just stroll through any cubicle farm and note that while one person is wrapped in a blanket, someone a few doors down is loosening his tie and holding a tiny fan to cool down. Wearable technology may be part of the solution to that problem.

A team of four engineering students at MIT developed a thermoelectric bracelet that’s powered by a lithium polymer battery and is designed to keep individual wearers at their preferred temperature. The device monitors both skin and air temperature and sends small pulses of warm or cool waveforms to keep the wearer feeling comfortable.

MIT Wristify wearable technology

How effective could such a technology possibly be? The team found that a change of 0.1 degree C could make someone feel several degrees warmer or colder, and their prototype can hit a rate change of 0.4 degrees C. You don’t have to be an engineering student to do the math on that.

Here’s something fun for the hardware geeks: The automated control system that determines the intensity and duration of the pulses makes use of a heatsink--an actual copper alloy heatsink.

The team’s goals, however, go beyond simple physical comfort. “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 senior on the team. The idea is that buildings themselves can be far more energy efficient if individuals are cooling or warming themselves instead of relying too heavily on facility-wide heating and cooling.

Shames and his colleagues took home the $10,000 first prize at MIT’s Making And Designing Materials Engineering Competition (MADMEC) for their work.
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JesseLiss replied on Thu, Oct 17 2013 1:07 PM

There was something that already did this. Researchers at Stanford created a cooling glove using vacuum to cool down the body so a person could exercise longer.

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JeffGreen replied on Thu, Oct 17 2013 9:21 PM

It was a matter of time before a University came up with a way to cool my overclocked onboard graphics chip.

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sevags replied on Fri, Oct 18 2013 4:32 PM

this sounds promising! We all have those disagreements at home or at work on whether it's hot or cold, and as someone who hates the heat, lives in Los Angeles, and has no air conditioning..... This could be a life saver! lollll

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scolaner replied on Sat, Oct 19 2013 10:03 AM

There's been a lot of work done in recent years with regards to cooling the body in order to accomplish certain things. I wasn't aware of the one you mentioned, JesseLiss, but I do know that, for example, emergency medicine has worked with cooling people down to prevent damage when a victim is en route to a hospital. If memory serves, that's what they did with Kevin Everett, the Buffalo Bills tight end who got seriously hurt on the field a few years ago. He never played again, but because they kept him cool, he was able to regain the use of his legs. Really interesting stuff.

However, my impression of this MIT tech is that it's more about the *perception* of bring warm or cool. Which makes sense--it's weird that when a building is 70 degrees, everyone experiences that 70 degrees differently. Some are hot, some are cold, etc. This thing would allow everyone to *feel* warm enough or cool enough without the temperature in a building to have to change.

This comment was too long. My bad.

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