When Kranthi Vistakula moved from the sweltering heat of Hyderabad, India, to study at Boston's Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the frigid East Coast winters gave the young engineer a chilly reception.
Trudging through Boston's sub-zero winters with layers of clothing — only later to remove those layers once inside warm classrooms — irked Vistakula. So he created a climate-controlled, all-weather jacket capable of adjusting to extreme temperatures.
The MIT graduate is now CEO of Dhama Innovations, his start-up in Hyderabad that has begun selling ClimaWare jackets and other clothing that allow wearers to control their comfort level without adding or removing layers.
"Our products can go from zero to 100 degrees C in the push of a button," Vistakula told InnovationNewsDaily. "We have four levels of heating and four levels of cooling that include low, medium, high and very high."
Despite bulky prototypes weighing over 7 pounds, complete with motorised fans, heating pipes and electric wiring, Vistakula settled on a more streamlined design by using a thermoelectric device called a Peltier plate, which consists of a junction between two different metals. Forcing an electric current across that junction causes the metal on one side to heat up, and the metal on the other side to cool down.
This so-called Peltier effect also helps cool electronic device such as laptops.
But such heat-exchange devices need fans to blow away excess heat. However, Vistakula used nanomaterials to create a super small version of the device with no moving parts and is built into lightweight plastic tiles within the jacket.
The tiles are powered by rechargeable batteries that can hold 8 hours on a single charge. The jacket weighs just over one pound and can maintain internal temperatures between 68 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit and can operate in ambient temperatures between -122 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
Besides ClimaWare jackets, the company also sells neck wraps, shoes, and bike helmets, as well as knee and elbow packs that provide hot and cold therapy. Vistakula's 20-person team has their sights set on "HaemoSave", an application that could utilize freezing temperatures to control bleeding, pain and inflammation during medical emergencies.
Photo Credits: Dharma Innovations