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A Thermoelectric Bracelet To Maintain a Comfortable Body Temperature

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the oh-that'll-be-satisfying dept.

Technology 125

rtoz writes "Heating or cooling certain parts of your body — such as applying a warm towel to your forehead if you feel chilly — can help maintain your perceived thermal comfort. Using that concept, four MIT engineering students developed a thermoelectric bracelet that monitors air and skin temperature, and sends tailored pulses of hot or cold waveforms to the wrist to help maintain thermal comfort. The product is now a working prototype. And although people would use the device for personal comfort, the team says the ultimate aim is to reduce the energy consumption of buildings, by cooling and heating the individual — not the building. The team estimates that if the device stops one building from adjusting its temperature by even just 1 degree Celsius, it will save roughly 100 kilowatt-hours per month."

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125 comments

What about the humidity? (3, Informative)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 6 months ago | (#45154475)

Personal comfort involves more than just temperature.

Re:What about the humidity? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#45154605)

Any AC/Climate Control people know how the energy costs of modifying humidity compare to those of modifying temperature?

For weedy little freestanding units, dehumidifiers appear to be pretty close to air conditioners that blow warm exhaust air in your face rather than outside; but there may be greater economies to be had in some mechanisms that only work on a larger scale, or when built into the building from day one, or so forth.

Re:What about the humidity? (4, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 months ago | (#45154763)

At my office, we are all required to inhale the office air, but exhale through little snorkels placed throughout the office which exhaust to the outside.

Re:What about the humidity? (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#45155053)

A man's body is his own. His water belongs to the corporation.

In Colorado that's actually true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155577)

The state literally owns every drop of water within its borders, no matter where it is or what form it's in.

Re:What about the humidity? (1)

chuckinator (2409512) | about 6 months ago | (#45155791)

A man's body is his own. His water belongs to the sietch.

Fixed that for you.

Re:What about the humidity? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155435)

Hey, I'm AC. I've found that a pot of boiling water on the kitchen stove in the winter lets me keep my thermostat 3 degrees F lower and have the same apparent temperature. OTOH, in Arizona where the air is bone-dry they don't use many air conditioners, they have "swamp coolers" that lower the temperature by forcing air through a stream of water; the evaporating water cools the air. It's a lot cheaper since there's no compressor, but it won't work in many other places.

Re:What about the humidity? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#45157163)

OTOH, in Arizona where the air is bone-dry they don't use many air conditioners, they have "swamp coolers" that lower the temperature by forcing air through a stream of water

You've obviously not been to Arizona in at least 20 years. No one uses swamp coolers any more because they don't work when the temperature is too high or the weather too humid. You'll see some older houses (70s-80s) that have piggyback swamp coolers + heatpumps, but no one builds houses like that any more, they've all gone to regular heat pumps because the efficiency is high on modern units, and again, swamp coolers stop working when it's too hot, and these days, it's gotten extremely hot in Phoenix and it never goes below 100 in the summer, even at night.

Re:What about the humidity? (1)

dj245 (732906) | about 6 months ago | (#45155481)

Any AC/Climate Control people know how the energy costs of modifying humidity compare to those of modifying temperature? For weedy little freestanding units, dehumidifiers appear to be pretty close to air conditioners that blow warm exhaust air in your face rather than outside; but there may be greater economies to be had in some mechanisms that only work on a larger scale, or when built into the building from day one, or so forth.

At my old house (with central AC) I purchased a fancy thermostat with 7 day programming, 4 programming points per day, and the ability to take several remote temperature measurements and average them.

Another feature it had was "humidity control". You could make a setpoint for humidity, and the AC would come on every now and then to maintain that humidity level. Temperature might have been 78F but with reduced humidity it was quite comfortable.

Re:What about the humidity? (1)

jbengt (874751) | about 6 months ago | (#45155781)

Any AC/Climate Control people know how the energy costs of modifying humidity compare to those of modifying temperature?

Depends on how you do it, of course.

The typical pre-energy codes way was to cool the air below the dewpoint with a regular A/C cycle then reheat using electric heat (or another heat source, if readily available). That is very cheap to install but very energy-intensive.

The "weedy little freestanding units" do essentially the same thing, but use the hot gas from the compressor to reheat the air. This doesn't cost much more to install (the refrigeration controls used to be the tricky part) and uses a little less energy than regular air conditioning that rejects the heat to outdoors because of the lower condensing temperatures. Larger packaged A/C systems can usually provide this as an option, but the extra cost is not often spent. (Most of the hours needing dehumidification need cooling too, so why add reheat for those few hours a year when it's 75F and raining?)

More sophisticated systems use dessicants to dry the air, which is regenerated by passing exhaust air across the dessicant and/or heating it. This uses very little energy, but is pretty pricy to install. Still, it's a popular choice as part of a "energy recovery" systems for those wishing to score energy efficiency points.

Re:What about the humidity? (1)

jbengt (874751) | about 6 months ago | (#45155849)

One other thing.
You can improve dehumidification somewhat just by reducing the air flow of the A/C unit. You get a little less cooling, requiring the A/C to run longer, and reduce the temperature of the air significantly further below the dewpoint, ringing more moisture out. Of course, you can only go so far before running into problems so like freezing the coil or shutting down on safeties (if they're there), so YMMV.

Re:What about the humidity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155009)

You're right; they should just give up because their idea does not simultaneously solve every problem that affects personal comfort. We should have more people like you around -- we'd put an end to all these half-measure solutions we've implemented and we'd be living in a utopia, because the only single thing we'd ever have done would have been to implement the uber-solution to all possible problems!

Re:What about the humidity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155675)

If these were for "personal comfort" in a work environment then humidity is a big factor to comfort.

Not to mention this is NOT A NEW IDEA [sharperimage.com]. Of course MIT has a habit of reinventing shit and claiming it as their own discovery.

Sold! (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#45154497)

Give one to me to keep cool, one to my girlfriend to keep warm, and we'll set the AC in the middle.

Re:Sold! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45154917)

You're assuming it's equally efficient to heat or cool a space. It is much more energy intensive to cool a space by 1 than it is to heat the same space by the same amount, thermodynamics and all.

Re:Sold! (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#45155329)

Well, it actually is the same amount of energy transfer, its just that our cooling systems aren't as efficient as our heating systems.

Re:Sold! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155657)

If that was true, then heat-pumps for home heating woudn't exist.

Re:Sold! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155429)

Give me your girlfriend to keep me warm and we'll be all set :D

Waveforms? (2)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 6 months ago | (#45154529)

Quoth TFA:

sends tailored pulses of hot or cold waveforms to the wrist to help maintain thermal comfort

"Waveforms?" What does that mean? Does it work by convection, conduction, radiation or what?

Personally I like the little space heater I keep under my desk. Makes it nice and cozy in winter. Much nicer than wrapping up with more layers.

Re:Waveforms? (4, Informative)

RealGene (1025017) | about 6 months ago | (#45154691)

Thermoelectric coolers are typically controlled with PWM, to adjust their temperature. The polarity determines which direction the heat is pumped, the duty cycle of the PWM determines how much.

Re:Waveforms? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#45154727)

I assume that 'waveforms' is a poorly-written-up allusion to the fact that a peltier element (while most usually driven in one direction for its entire life, or, as with those cheapie 'car fridge' units that plug into the DC jack and keep your no-it-isn't-beer-officer-it's-refreshing-soda cool; but can also warm things, flicked between running in one direction and running in the other quite infrequently) is a device that you would treat as demanding specially crafted AC current for a project like this.

Because user temperature and ambient temperature can both vary, sometimes fairly quickly(metabolic exertion, user enters a sunlit office from an interior corridor, whatever), the system would need to be able to drive the peltier in either direction at short notice: to warm the user, drive so that the hot side is coupled to the major blood vessels in the wrist, to cool them, drive in reverse with the hot side dumping to a heat sink(which, given the miserable efficiency of peltiers, will be a little tricky to mount comfortably on the wrist. Liquid coolant circulating through a tube in the sleeve would be convenient; but start to get into 'uncomfortable cyborg' territory pretty quickly. At any given moment, the Peltier would be an essentially DC device (unlike capacitors or inductors/magnetics in general, they don't depend on either DC ripple or AC current to do anything special); but the driver would have to be able to switch V+ and ground(as well as either the magnitude of V+ or the amount of current allowed to flow) swiftly and automatically in response to sensor inputs.

Re:Waveforms? (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#45155559)

Once your follow the link from the self promoting blog to the actual article from MIT [mit.edu] you find this

Over the course of developing its technology, the Wristify team made a key discovery: Human skin is very sensitive to minute, rapid changes in temperature, which affect the whole body. They found they needed to heat or cool any body part (in their case, the wrist) at a rate of at least 0.1 C per second in order to make the entire body, overall, feel several degrees warmer or colder.

After 15 prototypes, the team landed on its final product, which resembles a wristwatch and can be powered, for up to eight hours, by a lithium polymer battery. This prototype demonstrated a rate of change of up to 0.4 C per second.

The “watch” part of the prototype actually consists of the team’s custom copper-alloy-based heat sink (a component that lowers a device’s temperature by dissipating heat). Attached is an automated control system that manages the intensity and duration of the thermal pulses delivered to the heat sink. Integrated thermometers also measure external and body temperature to adjust accordingly.

Its clear from the article that there is no actual heating of the body involved. Their system does not have enough power to heat 150 pounds of (essentially) water even one degree in the time period mentioned, let alone maintain any elevated temperature over 8 hours.

They are simply tricking the body into thinking it is warm enough or cool enough so that you don't FEEL cold / hot. You still actually ARE too cold or too hot.

This sounds interesting but I wonder just how safe it is to trick the body's thermal regulation its cool enough such that it no longer pays attention to the fact that it might be running dangerously close to heat induced stroke? Or trick it into thinking its cold, so it ramps up the metabolism.

In fact this might be a more useful as w weight loss device than an energy saving device.
But I'm still not convinced we should let engineers start micromanaging bodily functions, when all they are worried about is the device and the energy consumption.

Technology to do the same thing was invented a LONG time ago. Its called a sweater.

Even cheaper is a simple cap. Put it on, and you reduce heat loss through your head sufficiently enough to actually warm your entire body. Take it off and the reverse happens. The cap will last for years with no need for environment polluting batteries, and never has to be plugged in or recharged.

Re:Waveforms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45156001)

Technology to do the same thing was invented a LONG time ago. Its called a sweater.

Or at the other end of the scale, Nudism!

It's more of a technique than technology. (4, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | about 6 months ago | (#45156115)

Technology to do the same thing was invented a LONG time ago. Its called a sweater.

It's keeping one foot out from under the covers.

Re:Waveforms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45156567)

But I'm still not convinced we should let engineers start micromanaging bodily functions, when all they are worried about is the device and the energy consumption.

It can't be all bad, for every electric shock to make someone pee their pants, there's bound to be a different shock to get me to stand every now and then as I'm playing WoW in the basement. I don't want to end up like this guy [examiner.com] or this guy [bbc.co.uk], after all.

Re:Waveforms? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 6 months ago | (#45157877)

They are simply tricking the body into thinking it is warm enough or cool enough so that you don't FEEL cold / hot. You still actually ARE too cold or too hot.

I thought this was obvious just from the summary.

But yes, I too was wondering about this from a weight loss perspective. I've always wondered if you could make your body "think" it's too cold, so just burn up calories to "keep it warm". Yes, I realize being too hot is bad (e.g. a fever), but if you could somehow make the body just "waste" a little bit more energy without ALSO making you sweat, that would be really cool (pun intended).

Re:Waveforms? (1)

chuckinator (2409512) | about 6 months ago | (#45155871)

The thermoelectric elements work by the Peltier Effect. They're not as efficient as cartridge heating elements for heating or vapor compression refrigeration for cooling, but they also don't require moving parts and can be use in places where either of the more efficient mechanisms can't (like pressed against a gel pad pressed against a human body). They're a polarized device that pushes heat in one direction with current flowing in one direction and pushes heat in the opposite direction with an opposite electrical polarity.

Re:Waveforms? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 6 months ago | (#45155877)

Personally I like the little space heater I keep under my desk. Makes it nice and cozy in winter. Much nicer than wrapping up with more layers.

Yes, I would like to have one of those, too, but our office manager forbids it. Which is a shame because my office is on an outside wall and it is regularly 62 degrees Fahrenheit on mornings that are chilly outside, then by the afternoon, it is usually about 85 degrees.

Re:Waveforms? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#45157215)

Yes, I had the same problem at a past job. That's why you put your space heater under your desk. Does your office manager run around looking under everyone's desk every day?

Re:Waveforms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45157313)

Personally I like the little space heater I keep under my desk. Makes it nice and cozy in winter. Much nicer than wrapping up with more layers.

Yes, I would like to have one of those, too, but our office manager forbids it. Which is a shame because my office is on an outside wall and it is regularly 62 degrees Fahrenheit on mornings that are chilly outside, then by the afternoon, it is usually about 85 degrees.

Get a heated foot rest, take off your shoes and pop them on there. Amazon sells them, $40 or so, it only takes 50-100 watts so no breaker tripping worries for the office/IT manager. Worked wonders for me in cold winter, much better than the radiant heat panel. Bonus, no super dry air issues from an actual space heater.

Re:Waveforms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45157839)

AMD or Intel?

At least one fancy house that won some architectural award here in London credits space heating to Apple Computers.

Ten bucks a month? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45154579)

100 kWh is about $10-13. Something tells me outfitting an entire building with these devices would cost much more.

Re:Ten bucks a month? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 6 months ago | (#45154733)

for every 1 degree celcius... if that means the building can operate at 28C (roughly 82F) in the summer and 17C (roughly 62F) in the winter, rather than having to maintain 22C (roughly 72F) all year, that's 1000 kWh per month for the more extreme 2/3 of the year, or roughly 667 kWh on average. That's in the $60-90/mo range, $720-1080/yr, the kind of numbers that aren't huge but get your attention pretty damn quick if you're heating or cooling 20+k locations.

Re:Ten bucks a month? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 6 months ago | (#45154761)

Oh christ... I used fahrenheit for my cost savings calculations... it's more like $30-50/mo, or $360-600/yr. Still in the "you have my attention re: the 20+k buildings I have to heat and cool" range, though.

Re: Ten bucks a month? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45156147)

NASA? Is that you?

that powersaving claim might want to come (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#45154581)

that powersaving claim might want to come with specs about the bulding for it to make any sense at all.

Does it really cool you or give you just a cool feeling for a small while on your wrist? other is really easy to achieve and the other is really hard, edging on stillsuit territory. the heat has to go somewhere and I don't really envision carrying around 100watts+ worth of peltier cooling and a power source for that(with peltier efficiency at what, 10%? so I'd carry around a kw class power source?? or maybe just passive heatsinks attached to my shirt?? or maybe the system just sprinkles me with water and has a fan?).

unless they've made some mega-giga leap in TEC tech in which case fuck this usage scenario put them into the AC machines and save boatloads of money(though I really don't think they have developed a better heat pump because frankly they wouldn't announce it like this).

I think I'll just use the AC for now.

and an on topic public announcement: SPENDING THE WINTER IN THAILAND! SUCK IT BI**HES IN THE ARCTIC!!

Re:that powersaving claim might want to come (2)

jcochran (309950) | about 6 months ago | (#45154751)

Does it really cool you or give you just a cool feeling for a small while on your wrist?

Neither, it instead tricks your body into thinking the overall temperature is comfortable.

Re:that powersaving claim might want to come (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#45155083)

but I could take drugs for that.

Sure, I would pass out once the body got too warm and I had tricked my sweat glands to not work to keep me cool, so it would be rather pointless and maybe horrifying... which gets us to that the bracelet would have to either do that(block sweating) or not really work at all then.

I'm starting to just assume that the inside of it gets just cool for a second("waves") or two. then it equalizes again in temperature and does it again. the problem with that is of course that you can get someone to say that it makes them feel cool for one second. but in long range, 10+ minutes - you're just adding heat to the building and your wrist. seriously, a fucking battery operated handworn fan would do more actual cooling(and feel of it) than that, allowing the raising of the office temperature by a degree or two. or heck just install clothing rules that you must wear shorts and you can easily raise the temperature 3-7 degrees(hong kong is the craziest place. hot as fuck outside but every friggin shop and building is 20 something celsius or under, making it necessary, or rather enabling, the staff to wear full suits).

it's just that he actual idea of the device doesn't seem to be in realistic agreement with physics, energy use or well.. anything. it looks like a case of "hey we managed to build a circular tec so what are we gonna do with it??". how about using the tec to harvest the energy from the difference between outside air and the air exhausted from the building..

Re:that powersaving claim might want to come (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#45155377)

It's not about cooling, it's about comfort. This isn't for Arctic or Sahara survival use. You could lower the temperature by 1C or so and still be comfortable. The overall saving in that is pretty big.

Re:that powersaving claim might want to come (2)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#45155653)

but I could take drugs for that.

Sure, I would pass out once the body got too warm and I had tricked my sweat glands to not work to keep me cool, so it would be rather pointless and maybe horrifying... which gets us to that the bracelet would have to either do that(block sweating) or not really work at all then.

Exactly. Our use a cap, or a sweater, or thinner clothing in hot weather.

Letting engineers regulate the human body so that the building can be run on less energy is the perfect definition of ASS BACKWARDS.

MIT should grow a Medical school instead of leaching off of Harvard. Perhaps then they might actually understand what they are messing with and perhaps grow to have a concept of ethics as well.

Re:that powersaving claim might want to come (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 6 months ago | (#45154769)

I tought somethng on the same lines, so I clicked on that link to RTFA. A mistake, obviously, since the article says nothing more than the summary.

The one thing that I could see there (but not read, of course), is that there are wires running from the bracelet, it's not self powered. Not very practical, but answers your questions.

Re:that powersaving claim might want to come (2)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#45155703)

The real article is here: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/madmec-design-competition-1017.html [mit.edu]

(Damn slashdot editors allowing blog hyping instead of linking to the actual sources!!!)

Close reading of that indicates this is just a huge trick played on the body's temperature regulation system.
There is no actual heating or cooling of the body. Its probably dangerous at some level, and the body would
also probably "learn" to ignore it.

Re:that powersaving claim might want to come (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 6 months ago | (#45157801)

And they beat a team that created an inexpensive solar cell and another that created a water filter that retains heavy metals, in a competition for sustainable technology, with that. Ok, it probably didn't consider how much the tech improved our footprint, just that it did improve, but even then, those other two are usefull.

Now that I ranted, it looks like a great experiment that could lead to some usefull data about our body's temperature control. It just doesn't look like a product.

Sounds dangerous (5, Interesting)

punkr0x (945364) | about 6 months ago | (#45154627)

Isn't this basically tricking your body into thinking you're hotter or cooler than you really are? It might work temporarily but wearing this thing all day, every day sounds like it could mess up your body's ability to regulate your temperature.

Re:Sounds dangerous (3, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 months ago | (#45154813)

You are supposed to take some ecstasy to balance things out. They have a pacifier version, too.

Re:Sounds dangerous (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 months ago | (#45155017)

Indeed - plus placebos generally don't work all that well when the person *knows* they're taking a placebo.

Re:Sounds dangerous (2)

unimind (743130) | about 6 months ago | (#45155171)

Actually, there have been some studies indicating placebos work regardless of whether the person knows it's a placebo. [npr.org]

Re:Sounds dangerous (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155705)

Placebos work really well for people who recognize the legitimacy of the placebo effect.

By far the most potent medicinal combination is to educate a person on the reality of the placebo effect, and then give them actual medicine which you mislead them to believe is a placebo.

I read theories that this is how Jesus actually brought people back from the dead.

Re:Sounds dangerous (1)

unimind (743130) | about 6 months ago | (#45155075)

That's what immediately occured to me. I'm pretty sure our brain does important things with the information it gets about temperature (and everything else for that matter). If the brain's perception of body temperature is decoupled from actual body temp, I would think results might be a little unpredictable.

My main questions (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 6 months ago | (#45154709)

Does it keep you from sweating? Say when the humidity is 90-100% and perspiration does nothing but soak your clothes?

Wouldn't this kill your wrist after awhile? Especially if you're keyboarding? Perhaps an anklet?

.

Re:My main questions (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 6 months ago | (#45155595)

Perhaps an anklet?

Sure. They're coming up with an ankle version for the workplace environment. It comes attached to a 120 pound iron ball with a short segment of chain. You'll be cozy and secure at your galley oar ^w^w desk.

Take my money please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45154717)

If there is a kickstarter or something for this plz link!

jacket? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45154765)

I put on my jacket when I'm cold.

Sounds good but dodgy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45154901)

I'd sure hope they would test this to the literal extremes where a person ends up being so cold or hot that they fall ill and potentially end up emergency cases.

If it could trick the body enough to make someone ill, then I would still consider it a huge success regardless because the system works and I am buying a million to put on all 1000 of my arms.

Mind you, it would likely be dangerous for me to put it on since I tend to sleep with windows open in south-west Scotland even at winter. Hey, I get laaaaazy at 4am.
But for general daytime activities where the temperature isn't OHGODMYBALLSAREINVERTED cold, it should work brilliantly at saving loads of power since comfort and temperature are two very different things to a lot of people.
Some people love the cold, some people love the heat, some people love both and hate being warm (me), some people like being hot in mornings and cold at night (me), warm & hot, blah blah etc. So if it could bring heating down to minimum safe temperatures legally allowed, that would be absolutely brilliant.

Heat allergies (2)

LongearedBat (1665481) | about 6 months ago | (#45154927)

A few years ago my gf got an infection that now causes her to get rashes whenever she's warm, and being hot makes her skin terribly itchy. (Please don't bother with sordid jokes here. They're too easy, I'm tired and I'm actually being serious.) So far she's had to resort to taking antihistamines almost daily, and she's likely going to have to do that for the rest of her life.

This bracelet doesn't actually cover the body, so it's not actually making the skin cool. And I don't understand what the mean by waveforms across the skin. Does that mean it's telling the skin that it's cool/warm even when it's not?

So I'm wondering, could this be something to help her feel cool, and thereby less itchy, especially during summer?

Re:Heat allergies (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 6 months ago | (#45155449)

This would not help your GF. However, to understand the principle, next time it's hot out, go outside and place an ice cube on the underside of your wrist.

Re:Heat allergies (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#45157301)

What I want to know is how much this actually affects the body's temperature. When you're really hot, one way to cool down is to put an ice cube on your forehead and on your neck, over your carotid arteries. This isn't just a trick; there's a lot of blood flowing through those spots on your body, so if you cool them down with an icecube, you're also cooling your blood, which of course cools your whole body because of the circulatory system. I imagine the same effect works with your wrist, but not nearly as effectively, since there isn't that much blood flowing near that point.

Of course, this won't help with skin temperature over the rest of your body, but you won't notice the skin being too hot or cold as badly if your blood supply is heated or cooled. I do wonder if long-term usage of a device like this might have negative effects on your body though.

Re:Heat allergies (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#45155969)

Maybe, but if it does it would be a pretty strong indicator that her issue may be in her head. That's not a judgement.

If it was an infection, she could actual be experiencing another bacterial infection of folicles. Antibiotics should help that.

http://www.ifd.org/protocols_bacterial.htm [ifd.org]

Re:Heat allergies (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#45157327)

Yep, probably in her head. Like in her hypothalamus [unl.edu].

And, more to the point, it might help the OP's GF's rash. Although some icy hot or an ice cube might be a good trial device and quite a bit smaller than the prototype.

Re:Heat allergies (1)

glitch! (57276) | about 6 months ago | (#45156199)

It sounds like her immune system is pretty messed up. I would make fixing that a priority so it doesn't get worse, or allow some future infection to blossom.

Somewhere, there must be a medical doctor that can figure out the cause, and get it fixed. At the very least, I would suggest vitamin D (2 x 5000IU) and vitamin C (2-10 grams, or as much as the body will take before laxative effect.) That should be safe and may give some relief.

Except it's pure trickery (1)

macraig (621737) | about 6 months ago | (#45154949)

... the team says the ultimate aim is to reduce the energy consumption of buildings, by cooling and heating the individual — not the building.

Bullshit. This device does nothing of the sort; instead it tricks the body into thinking the ambient temperature is just right when in fact it's not. Those nerves and body temperature regulation systems exist for a reason, and tricking and preempting them to save corporations money is sickening.

Re:Except it's pure trickery (1)

whois (27479) | about 6 months ago | (#45155513)

Maybe not. Your wrist has major arteries (veins? I dunno) close the the skin. Placing something to cool you there will cause the blood to carry it throughout your body.

I found out someone had made a peltier cooler for a person who can't sweat a while back. I wanted one so I google searched for it but apparently nobody makes them. Hopefully the MIT guys will actually come up with a cheap product for everyone.

Re:Except it's pure trickery (1)

macraig (621737) | about 6 months ago | (#45155699)

You'd have a distractingly hot/cold wrist at the very least if that had any hope of doing what you suggest. That's in any case not the goal of what is described.

Re:Except it's pure trickery (1)

psithurism (1642461) | about 6 months ago | (#45157079)

Nope, if you read the articles, it is trickery. To change your whole body temperature, you need an prolonged contact with a cold object to those veins. This thing is not warming or cooling you, it just fluctuates its temperature in such a way as to make you think you are warmer or colder than you really are.

This sounds dangerous to me.

From the articles linked it looks like they give you a quick pulse in the direction that you want to perceive and then gradually return the plate to normal so they can give you the next pulse, which they name "thermal waveforms."

Re:Except it's pure trickery (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#45155983)

Save everyone money, more inmportantly save energy.

If you could keep the temp of your home 2 degrees cooler or warmer, thus saving you money.

Re:Except it's pure trickery (1)

macraig (621737) | about 6 months ago | (#45156839)

You're missing the point: if the body is tricked - as this technique aims to do - into thinking the ambient temperature is tolerable when it's really not, that likely has a health effect. That part of the nervous system exists for a reason. As that ancient commercial declared, "it's not nice to fool Mother Nature!"

Re:Except it's pure trickery (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 6 months ago | (#45157955)

That part of the nervous system exists for a reason.

You could say the same thing about hay fever or other allergies, yet in day to day life, they aren't actually saving people from anything.

This will not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155005)

for very long. It may work in the short term but your body will adapt very quickly to these false readings. In short this is fucking retarded.

Payback 100 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155085)

100 KWh per month is about $10 in savings. Depending on how many employees there are and what the bracelets cost the payback time would be ridiculous.

Clothes? (2)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | about 6 months ago | (#45155381)

Am I missing something? Isn't this the exact same thing as putting on or taking off clothes?

Re:Clothes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45157241)

Clothes are for your wife, this is what you get for your girlfriend.

Really ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155413)

This is really ridiculous. The heat flux from your body is about 150 watts. You can't apply even a small fraction of that through a small bracelet without exceeding the FDA guidelines. Plus a lot of us get drippy noses when the air temp goes down, a bracelet isn't going to help with that.

And it's not going to save any energy-- you're using electrical energy, the highest form, to make heat energy. The heat can be put into the ambient at more than twice that efficiency by using a gas-powered furnace.

Free alternative (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 6 months ago | (#45155477)

How about just letting most of us work from home, and only maintaining enough office space to host a handful of meeting/collaboration rooms? Bam, your whole "office building" just reduced to a 2nd story loft.

But hey, sure, let's instead try playing games with peoples' heads rather than address the real problem. And then the PHBs can ask themselves why the electric bill has actually gone up, when everyone starts keeping an electric space heater under their desk.

better and free solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155545)

stop being such a pussy

sometimes its hot, sometimes its cold, unless either of those conditions are causing health problems just train your body to ignore them

Cold feet (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#45155617)

Anecdotal evidence: After having installed a radiant floor heating system, I made the following observation. If your feet are cold, you perceive the environment as being cold. And you turn up the heat. If your feet are warm, you can tolerate lower air temperatures.

This might be related to the rate of heat loss through contact. Where heat loss to air (via convection) is inefficient, loss through conduction is higher. Since the one point that is most often in contact with another surface is your feet, minimizing this loss path goes a long way to modifying perception.

I wonder how effective a thermoelectric bracelet will be if you perceive your arm as being warm but your feet are still cold.

Re:Cold feet (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#45155763)

Anecdotal evidence: After having installed a radiant floor heating system, I made the following observation. If your feet are cold, you perceive the environment as being cold. And you turn up the heat. If your feet are warm, you can tolerate lower air temperatures.

Wrists, ankles, and neck.

These are the main points by which your body measures ambient temperature, and makes adjustments accordingly. Theoretically, if you were to wrap your wrists, ankles, and neck in some sort of warm material, you could very well walk out into near-zero temperatures otherwise naked, and not really feel the cold. Anecdotally, I tried this myself last winter (albeit with the addition of skivvies to avoid an indecent exposure charge), and I do recall noting that I didn't feel as cold as I should have.

Of course, it has to be said that 'feeling warm' will do absolutely nothing to prevent hypothermia and exposure.

pfft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45155677)

bowties make you cool, not bracelets

hi (-1, Troll)

AlishaGraves (3401015) | about 6 months ago | (#45155683)

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tro7l (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45156429)

And the striking 7luy...don't fear and sling or table It's going,

RIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45157571)

Any business that begrudges 100kWh for its employees' comfort ain't long for this world anyway.

Need cold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45157761)

I once accidentally brushed against the arm of the wife of a student at a training institute. Her arm was like ice! I mentioned it to her husband and he agreed, she was cold to the touch all the time. If you live in Texas, you might look for such a woman to keep yourself cool. She would probably love being squeezed continuously.

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