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An open-source personal cooling wearable technology platform for use in India.
The devastating impacts of global warming will disproportionately affect India. Over the next two decades, India will have explosive demand for air conditioning. If this demand is met using the existing space cooling paradigm, harmful refrigerants and dirty power sources, the global community will experience devastating environmental and social consequences. There needs to be an alternative approach to cooling that is effective, inexpensive and environmentally friendly.
For the past few years I have been working on an alternative to traditional air conditioning. It provides a whole-body sensation of cooling using thermoelectric modules and an electronic control unit.
This video shows an example of how the thermoelectric modules perform:
The overall solution is light, energy efficient and easy to make. It can be embedded in a wide variety of products including clothing, seating and personal protective equipment. The technology is patent-pending in the United States (https://patents.google.com/patent/US20170209301A1) and I’ve made the patent public domain in India.
Below is photo of the current prototype system applied to a polo-style shirt.
The photo below shows another prototype example of the system. This was built for a defense contractor partner and embedded in one of their body armor systems.
The illustration below shows a concept illustration showing how the system could be applied to a basic garment, like a t-shirt.
Solving the challenge of keeping India cool in a new way creates significant opportunities for engineers and entrepreneurs. This project is like a Linux for personal thermal comfort. While the project is in its infancy, I’m confident that there are careers, companies and fortunes to be made bringing this technology to India and the rest of the world.
The system’s technical elements are mature but need to be put into an appropriate form factor for successful use in India. These elements include: the overall design; PCB design; firmware code; prototype bill of materials; and technical requirements. These will need to be finalized by a local engineering and business team so a viable product can be brought to market.
The system can be put into many form factors. It is based on commercial off-the-shelf components. The form factor design and technical modifications need to be informed by a Lean local customer discovery process so they can be successful with customers in India.
A prototype warming solution similar to the one below was tested and successfully proved the concept. Testers described experiencing a whole-body sensation of warmth, even though only a small section of their bodies were being warmed at a time.
The cooling solution has been tested up to 37.7 C / 100 F. Additional testing will need to be done by a valid sample of consumers in India once an improved prototype is available for them in the right form factor.
Why Open Source?
Both the hardware and the firmware should are fully open so they can be improved upon by the broadest possible community of contributors. This will enable successful long-term technical growth as well as widespread adoption of the platform.