Energy Game Changer?
The early press on Wristify and its underlying technology is aflutter with cute vignettes about how families and co-workers will never again have to quarrel over where to set the thermostat. But where Wristify really has an opportunity to break new ground is on lowering the high costs associated with heating and cooling office buildings, apartments and houses.
Heating and cooling accounts for nearly half of the annual home energy consumption in the U.S. and comprise almost 17 percent of energy costs nationwide each year [sources: Vincent, Energy Information Administration]. By keeping wearers comfortable in varying environments, Wristify developers are hoping to make users less likely to crank up the A/C or heat and take a chnk out of those costs in the process. The technology is incredibly energy efficient in that it's designed to heat people, not spaces [sources: Vincent, Vanhemert].
Just when these energy savings may become available is still unclear. Wristify remains in a prototype stage as of 2013, and its creators say they're exploring additional funding to help them eventually bring the product to market, possibly by 2015 [source: Wristify]. If and when that happens, strapping on a thermo-bracelet is likely to be affordable; the developers say they can currently create the device with about 50 bucks' worth of off-the-shelf components. Some commentators have even hypothesized that the technology might soon find its way into smart watches that combine cell phone and other technologies into a wearable timepiece [source: Burlingame].
Author's Note: Could a wristband replace air conditioning?
Even if Wristify is indeed the wave of the future and in a few short years we're all wearing personalized wristbands that let us maintain optimal comfort (it will probably be a device that also lets us make phone calls, surf the Web and even monitor outside temperatures), I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there will still be huge swaths of the U.S. that are off limits to me most parts of the year simply because they're too cold. I don't like the cold. More importantly, I don't like the gray, overcast skies that often accompany frigid temperatures. Call me a self-diagnosed sufferer of seasonal affective disorder, but cloudy skies and 5 p.m. nightfalls put a damper on my day. A wristband that can warm me up on a chilly afternoon sounds nice, but what I really want is a device that brings out the sun.
- Burlingame, Liz. "Wristify: New Wristband Keeps Your Body at the Perfect Temperature." The Weather Channel. Nov. 4, 2013. (Nov. 25, 2013) http://www.weather.com/health/mit-students-invent-wristify-bracelet-fools-your-body-never-feeling-too-hot-or-cold-20131103
- Matheson, Rob. "'Cool' invention wins first place at MADMEC." MIT News. Oct. 16, 2013. (Nov. 25, 2013) http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/madmec-design-competition-1017.html
- U.S. Energy Information Administration. "Heating and cooling no longer majority of U.S. home energy use." March 7, 2013. (Nov. 25, 2013)
- Vincent, James. "Forget your jumper, this thermoelectric wristband can heat or cool your entire body." The Independent. Nov. 1, 2013. (Nov. 25, 2013) http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10271http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/forget-your-jumper-this-thermoelectric-wristband-can-heat-or-cool-your-entire-body-8918320.html
- Vanhemert, Kyle. "MIT Wristband Could Make AC Obsolete." Wired. Oct. 30, 2013. (Nov. 25, 2013) http://www.wired.com/design/2013/10/an-ingenious-wristband-that-keeps-your-body-at-the-perfect-temperature-no-ac-required/
- Wristify. "FAQ." (Nov. 25, 2013) http://wristifyme.com/faq