June 3, 2015

Put on a sweater

Update: Researchers aim for smarter people, not smarter thermostats

We see everyday more examples of "smart" products that presume people are dumb. We should instead leverage human intelligence and instinct.
Research Project Aims to Make 'Smart' Clothes for Personalized Cooling and Heating.
SAN DIEGO—A new research project aims to develop a fabric that will keep people at a comfortable temperature regardless of how hot or cold it actually is. Press release.

Wait, we have this already! It's called a sweater! 
The ATTACH (Adaptive Textiles Technology with Active Cooling and Heating) project at the University of California, San Diego is funded with a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E). The smart fabric will be designed to regulate the temperature of the wearer's skin—keeping it at 93°F (34°C)—by adapting to temperature changes in the room. When the room gets cooler, the fabric will become thicker. When the room gets hotter, the fabric will become thinner. To accomplish this feat, the researchers will insert polymers inside the smart fabric that expand in the cold and shrink in the heat. "Regardless if the surrounding temperature increases or decreases," said Wang, "the user will still feel the same without having to adjust the thermostat." 
With smart people who know how to dress themselves for the seasons, you won't need to heat the room as much in winter....uh, wait, there is now an app for that? 
“With the smart fabric, you won’t need to heat the room as much in the winter, and you won’t need to cool the room down as much in the summer. That means less energy is consumed. Plus, you will still feel comfortable within a wider temperature range,” added Renkun Chen, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC San Diego.
Tech and 3D printing, blah blah blah. 

For some short pieces actually worth reading on this same subject, see Kris De Decker's work on clothing at Low Tech Magazine.

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