My house has a problem. The thermostat is in the dining room, adjacent to the new stairwell we built. Heat from the dining room is sucked upstairs, causing the thermostat to send out more heat. Meanwhile, the master bedroom and office are sweltering. The obvious solution is to turn the thermostat down, but the kids in the living room get cold when the heat is sucked upstairs, so they crank the thermostat up -which doesn't help. My solution is to hang heavy curtains between the dining room and the stairwell, but someday we might make everyone in the house happy with an award-winning new gadget that warms or cools one person at a time -the one in every crowd who is never comfortable at the thermostat setting everyone else is.
It was this all-too-common predicament playing out six months ago amongst students in an MIT engineering lab that was the genesis for the creation of a device called Wristify, a simple bracelet that’s designed to instantly allow the wearer to feel cooler or warmer by sending out alternating pulses of hot or cold to a small area of skin right beneath. As kooky as it sounds, the research team, along with other volunteers who have tried out the invention, have attested to the fact that the invention indeed works, continually creating a cooling or warming effect that lasts as long as eight hours. Judges from MIT’s annual materials-science design competition, who also tried on the device, recently awarded the team first place and a $10,000 prize.
The beauty of Wristify is that it only heats or cools a small part of the body, but that's enough to make you feel more comfortable all over. The phenomenon is explained in an article at Smithsonian. Wristify will not make the central heat and air obsolete, but it may keep people with different heat sensitivities from constantly readjusting a thermostat, which will save energy and money.
(Image credit: Wristify/David Cohen-Tanugi)