The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The world is getting hotter. Can temperature-controlled clothing provide some relief?

Rising temperatures have given merchandisers a reason to market self-cooling clothes. (iStock)

A quick browse on Amazon reveals that designers have been hard at work trying to conquer new territory in the world of fashion: air-conditioned clothing.

There are poofy jackets with fans inside that promise to prevent heat stroke, as well as vests embedded with dozens of ice cubes that are allegedly perfect for anyone “looking to stay cool during outdoor activities like mowing the lawn or gardening.”

Now Sony has introduced a new product into this sometimes-humorous space: a smart-phone-size device called the Reon Pocket that operates like a mobile air conditioner (it also offers heating). Slipping into the user’s clothes between the shoulder blades on a specially designed shirt, the Bluetooth device, which is being marketed to business people, was designed to lower the wearer’s body temperature using a method known as the Peltier effect.

The method uses an electric current to transfer heat between two electrical conduits, according to II-VI Marlow, a manufacturing company that specializes in thermoelectric energy.

MIT scientists are using lobsters to develop a new form of flexible body armor

The device is being unveiled in what is likely to be the hottest summer on record, a stretch of scalding-hot months that have shattered temperature records around the globe. June has already been established as the globe’s hottest month on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Nine of the 10 hottest Junes have occurred since 2010,” NOAA reported. “Last month also was the 43rd consecutive June and 414th consecutive month with above-average global temperatures.”

July has not provided the world with much relief. Paris reached 109 degrees during a heat wave earlier this month, and new heat records have also been set in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Last week, Britain suffered its hottest day ever, according to new provisional data released by the Met Office on Friday.

The Reon Pocket is part of Sony’s First Flight crowdfunding program in Japan, which was created to encourage the development of new products and businesses, according to the company.

What exactly are heat domes and why are they so long-lasting and miserable?

The device is controlled using a smartphone that allows users to adjust their body temperature. After performing hundreds of simulations, Sony claims the device can lower the wearer’s body by 23 degrees or raise it by about 14 degrees.

Sony claims the Reon Pocket only weighs about three ounces, making it easily concealed inside a “neck pocket,” which “can be worn without a sense of incongruity in appearance.” The rechargeable device will cost around $120 and be available only in Japan when it goes on sale next year, Sony said.

A promotional video showing how the device works has already racked up more than 500,000 views.

For those who don’t live in Japan, there are ample temperature-lowering clothing options online these days, some of them decidedly low-tech.

There’s Snowballs, a company that makes cooling underwear for men, which markets itself as a way to increase male fertility by lowering the temperature in areas where sperm are produced.

Women have cooling options, too.

Cool58′s Bra Coolers claim its machine-washable pockets are not only discreet but also can be filled with freezable packs that cool the body when worn.

“I feel like cooling down your chest starts cooling down your whole body,” Kristen McRobie, who uses bra coolers, told USA Today.


A new autonomous delivery vehicle is designed to operate like a bicycle

Ever wonder how much tech workers get paid in your town? This map might have the answer.

After death of YouTube star, Amazon will push for e-scooter safety warnings in the U.K.