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Sensors, Vision

Wearable air conditioning device developed to monitor human condition

University of Missouri engineers have developed an on-skin device that functions as wearable air conditioning and has numerous human health care applications such as the ability to monitor blood pressure and body temperature.
By Eric Stann January 9, 2020
An on-skin device designed by engineers at the University of Missouri can achieve around 11 degrees Fahrenheit of cooling to the human body. The device also includes numerous human health care applications such as the ability to monitor blood pressure, electrical activity of the heart and the level of skin hydration. Courtesy: University of Missouri

University of Missouri engineers have developed an on-skin device that functions as wearable air conditioning. The device includes numerous human health care applications such as the ability to monitor blood pressure, electrical activity of the heart and the level of skin hydration.

Unlike similar products in use today or other related concepts, this breathable and waterproof device can deliver personal air conditioning to a human body through a process called passive cooling. Passive cooling does not utilize electricity, such as a fan or pump, which researchers believe allows for minimal discomfort to the user.

“Our device can reflect sunlight away from the human body to minimize heat absorption, while simultaneously allowing the body to dissipate body heat, thereby allowing us to achieve around 11 degrees Fahrenheit of cooling to the human body during the daytime hours,” said Zheng Yan, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering in a press release. “We believe this is one of the first demonstrations of this capability in the emerging field of on-skin electronics.”

The current device is a small wired patch. A wireless version is one to two years down the road. They also hope to one day take their technology and apply it to ‘smart’ clothing.

“Eventually, we would like to take this technology and apply it to the development of smart textiles,” Yan said. “That would allow for the device’s cooling capabilities to be delivered across the whole body. Right now, the cooling is only concentrated in a specific area where the patch is located. We believe this could potentially help reduce electricity usage and also help with global warming.”

– Edited by Chris Vavra, associate editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, cvavra@cfemedia.com.


Eric Stann
Author Bio: Eric Stann, research news strategist, University of Missouri.