Sony startup unveils tiny AC unit that fits inside your shirt

It can supposedly cool you down by 23 degrees Fahrenheit.

First Flight Sony / Reon Pocket
  • The Reon Pocket is a Bluetooth device that fits inside your shirt.
  • A Sony-affiliated startup recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to develop the device.
  • Currently marketed toward businessmen who wear suits, the designers hope to offer the Reon Pocket to more types of customers in the future.

Looking to take the comfort of your air conditioning with you when stepping out into the summer heat? A Sony-affiliated startup has launched a crowdfunding campaign for a product designed to do just that — a wearable air conditioning and heating unit that fits right inside your shirt.

The Reon Pocket is a Bluetooth device that's about the size of a small wallet, and it's designed to be worn with a special silicon-material shirt that holds the device in place, on the back just below the neck. The project leaders say the Reon Pocket can cool down a wearer by 23 degrees Fahrenheit, and warm them by 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

Currently available in Japan only, the device comes in two versions: the Reon Pocket Standard and Reon Pocket Lite. The main difference is that the Standard has Apple- and Android-supported Bluetooth; the Lite version must be operated manually. Prices range from about $117 to $175, depending on the package.

The project leaders say its main audience is businessmen who want to stay cool when commuting to and from work. In other words, it's not yet meant for all-day use, considering the device takes about two hours to charge but has a battery life of about 90 minutes.

Yoichi Ito, a project lead on Reon Pocket, wrote in a blog post (in Japanese):

"As a trend in the world, people are focusing on 'functionality' and 'comfort,'" he wrote. "For example, in winter, light and warm down jackets are popular in winter, and more and more people are combining their feet with sneakers for comfort. Therefore, in the summer of 2017, when we considered the fusion of 'fashion and technology.'"

The Reon Pocket uses thermoelectric cooling and heating technology, an approach that utilizes the Peltier effect — which describes heating or cooling that occurs when a current is made to flow through a junction between two different kinds of conductors.

It's not the first piece of techwear that's promised to heat or cool people on the go. A few recent examples include French label Courrèges' coats with built-in heaters, Eddy Yue's AC vest, and the U.S. Army's nanowire-coated base layers that aim to keep soldiers warm in extremely cold temperatures.

Ito suggested that people would use less energy overall if they used portable heating and cooling devices.

"In that way, I would like to contribute to the global environment," he wrote.

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