‘Cool’ invention wins first place at MADMEC

October 28, 2013

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.  For this invention, the team, called Wristify, took home the $10,000 first prize at this year’s Making And Designing Materials Engineering Competition (MADMEC), held Tuesday afternoon.

“Buildings right now use an incredible amount of energy just in space heating and cooling. In fact, all together this makes up 16.5 percent of all U.S. primary energy consumption.  We wanted to reduce that number, while maintaining individual thermal comfort,” says Sam Shames, a materials science and engineering senior who co-invented the Wristify technology.  “We found the best way to do it was local heating and cooling of parts of the body.” With the prize money, the team plans to further develop the prototype, using advanced algorithms to better automate the thermal pulses, among other things.  Other Wristify co-inventors from DMSE include graduate students Mike Gibson and David Cohen-Tanugi, and postdoc Matt Smith.

Read the article on MIT NewsPhoto by Franklin Hobbs.

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