Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a wearable patch that could provide personalized cooling and heating at home, work, or on the go. The soft, stretchy patch cools or warms a user’s skin to a comfortable temperature and keeps it there as the ambient temperature changes. It is powered by a flexible, stretchable battery pack and can be embedded in clothing. Researchers say wearing it could help save energy on air conditioning and heating.

The work is published May 17 in the journal Science Advances.

“This type of device can improve your personal thermal comfort whether you are commuting on a hot day or feeling too cold in your office,” said Renkun Chen, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC San Diego who led the study.

The device, which is at the proof-of-concept stage, could also save energy. “If wearing this device can make you feel comfortable within a wider temperature range, you won’t need to turn down the thermostat as much in the summer or crank up the heat as much in the winter,” Chen said. Keeping a building’s set temperature 12 degrees higher during the summer, for example, could cut cooling costs by about 70 percent, he noted.

There are a variety of personal cooling and heating devices on the market, but they are not the most convenient to wear or carry around. Some use a fan, and some need to be soaked or filled with fluid such as water.

Chen and a team of researchers at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering designed their device to be comfortable and convenient to wear. It’s flexible, lightweight and can be easily integrated into clothing.

Read more at University of California – San Diego