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Technology

Hot around the collar? Japan has a wearable AC for you

Sony's device fits in the shirt while Fujitsu General features a neck-worn gadget

Sony's cooling and heating device fits in a pocket along the neck of a custom undershirt. (Photo by Kosuke Shimizu)

TOKYO -- Just in time for the sweltering heat, Sony and Fujitsu General have come up with personal air conditioning that lets people keep their cool while they are out and about.

Sony began sales Wednesday of a device that tucks under the shirt. The Reon Pocket is worn in a slot at the back of the neck of a customized undershirt. The wearer uses a smartphone app to turn the temperature down, or up, as the device can absorb or generate heat.

The Reon Pocket was developed last year after Sony secured 66 million yen ($612,000) during a one-week crowdfunding campaign that summer. Judging that there was demand for the product, Sony went ahead and officially made it a business.

Sony set the suggested retail price at 13,000 yen for the device and 1,800 yen for the shirt. The Reon Pocket is available online and in domestic electronics stores. The product is expected to see great interest from corporate employees who are often out of the office. 

Fujitsu General's device uses electricity to cool the carotid artery in the neck. (Photo courtesy of Fujitsu General)

Another Japanese company, Fujitsu General, began offering in June a cooling device that wraps around the neck. It will be leased to businesses for workers at sites without air conditioning, such as in the construction industry. The price is expected to be less than 10,000 yen per unit a month.

Dubbed Comodo gear, the device cools the carotid artery in the neck using a so-called Peltier element, which changes temperature when electricity is applied. Water circulates around the neck and is brought to a unit worn on the waist equipped with a radiator and fan. It is powered with a lithium-ion battery and can operate on a three-hour charge.

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