Imagine, if you will, that you saw the product of the future – the coolest thing to happen in mobile/wearable/transportable gadgetry in years, and very few of the people you showed it to saw it the same way you did. That’s what I’ve been struggling with since CES 2013 after visiting the Dhama Innovations CLIMAWARE booth and attempting to explain why something that looks like a whiplash-treating medical device is a world changer.
The CLIMAWARE Cryothermic Scarf is a product from Dhama Innovations that either heats or cools your neck and is powered by a rechargeable battery similar to the ones in cell phones. At any point you can click the controls and start removing roughly 1/7 of the caloric heat your body produces (if I did the math right), or press a button and have a toasty warm scarf. The heat ranges are 60F-140F, and I have been told that it removes 15 watts of heat.
As I see the progression of popular mobile technology, first we took the radio out of the house, then we took out the phone, and then the TV and internet. And now finally we brought the air conditioner with us. The kitchen sink is still debatable as to whether we’ve achieved a mobile version yet.
I’ve been using this scarf for nearly a month every day for an hour or two, recharging as I go along and measuring the kilowatt draw using a Kill-A-Watt. I’ve attempted to do the math on what it’s like to raise or lower your body temperature by use of the scarf versus having to heat and cool a 400 square foot area, but then you get into factoring outside temperatures, R ratings on insulation, core temperature averaged for a diet of 2400 calories, and the results I got were that I am not capable of doing those calculations. It’s some significant energy savings if this works for you, but yours will vary. And if you hate the scarf, it’s a useless set of numbers.
What I did discover is if you’re the hot one in a room of people who are too cold or at the perfect temperature, slapping on the scarf and setting to cold will make you perfectly comfortable without having to modify the temperature of the whole house. If you’re the cold one, it will send a lot of heat into your neck, but for me it generally did not do much more than make my neck happy. I’m about 220 pounds, though, so your heat absorption will vary.
Unfortunately I got this to test during winter. This has made my attempts to use the much more impressive cooling mode a little more difficult than most, but fortunately I’ve got overly hot places I go (such as the gym) to attempt to simulate.
When the device is working in cooling mode, you should get better athletic performance from keeping yourself cooled. I don’t know what increase in performance I had, if it was even measurable, but I did notice I was not too tired, nor was I as horribly grubby. So there was that. My guess is the scarf is probably not capable of significant athletic improvement, but it did make me more comfortable.
The marketing of Climaware’s YouTube videos seems to be aimed at athletes, but the scarf (and the climate controlled dress shirt that I’m not reviewing here) at least, I would not particularly consider using in an exercise capacity. I wouldn’t consider the scarft because the heat/cool and power buttons tend to like to press themselves while you’re jogging, moving, or dodging things thrown at you in dodge ball. It’s a perfect little device if you’re not jostling about all the time, though.
- You can heat and cool yourself for several hours on an average charge
- You can get yourself to the right temperature pretty quickly
- You can turn it on and off as you want and you don’t require chemicals that can’t be stopped to make the thing work
- You can add a bit of water to aid in heat dissipation if it’s really hot outside. For moderate temps it seemed to work fine just using air cooling
- You can take this into the world and be comfortable hiking, camping, dining outside, etc.
- The battery/control unit is detachable, you can wash the scarf
If I did the estimates right using the Kill-A-Watt, the cost to power one of these things running non-stop is under $4 a year, which is significantly less than you’ll spend adjusting the temperature of your surrounding by 10 degrees one way or the other with an air conditioner or a heater.
- The exterior gray wrap that goes over the thermal contact points tends to fly off when you take the scarf off to show it to someone
- The battery hangs around your neck. When the battery pack bumps into things it’s quite possible to bump the heating/cooling switch by accident, and I do that roughly once per use
- It looks a little more like a neck brace than a scarf or portable AC
- If you haven’t shaved today, it tends to grab neck hair and pluck it
- Blue fabric appears to fray fairly quickly under continued use and shows dirt
So far I’ve used this product as a warming scarf while bundled up, and then shortly afterwards as a cooling scarf while I was still bundled up and waiting on someone where it was warm. It saved me having to strip a couple of layers of warmth only to put them back on in a minute.
I used it as a heated neck warmer while on my motorcycle in 50 degree weather. It kept my neck warm, and the bikers I showed it to have asked me to report back when it’s 80F+ outside on how well it cools, since motorcycles don’t generally carry air conditioning. I have a feeling it’ll be great with the wind moving the heat off your neck.
I’ve used it in cooling mode while I tried to get to sleep and was still too hot. It worked like a charm except I woke up with a sore throat as I’d frozen myself. Also, if you turn over and the heat has nowhere to escape to, you’ll end up noticing just how much heat it’s channeling out of you very quickly.
I played dodge ball with it on, and here it failed. No amount of coaxing would make it work. I think the battery was probably near dead, as the next charge it worked fine. That or the jostling kept shutting it off. I played for keeps.
It’s an absolutely amazing invention, and Dhama Innovations makes a slew of other products that look like they wouldn’t fall into any of what I consider the bad categories of the scarf. However, I will point out what I find bad about the scarf are mostly minor annoyances.
If you’re going to use this to be comfortable in a non-frantic exercise fashion, it’s an amazing tool. I imagine this would be a godsend at music festivals like Bonnaroo where the temperatures regularly bake the crowds to at least one heat death. I’m also pretty confident this thing would rock while camping.
Unfortunately, as stated before, it’s been pretty cold in Tennessee lately. I’ve only had a few chances to test how well it works as a cooling device, and as a warming device it can scald you if the movable cover slides off the heating and cooling points.
But I think about the ability to just be comfortable wherever you’re at when it’s too hot or too cold. I don’t know, to me this is a big thing. Think about the energy you’d save if you could keep yourself comfy while letting your house or apartment’s ambient temperature more closely mirror the outside world. The amount we spend on heating and cooling is absurd if you consider that for the most part, all that needs cooling in the house is us.
I’ve struggled with how to write about this device. In my opinion, it’s amazing, a potential life saver in hot weather, a huge energy saver if you can just make yourself comfortable instead of having to make your entire house comfortable, and it’s just kind of neat. It’s not connected to a phone or computer, but it’s part of the whole technology wherever movement.
I think some things that need to happen to make the scarf perfect. I’d like to see an extension cord so the battery isn’t around the neck and I’d like the ability to lock the controls, but for probably the first generation of a portable rechargeable air conditioner I’m kind of amazed. Their other products look like they’ve got most of the scarf issues licked too.
If you’re interested, you can watch the story of how they fit an air conditioner in something the size of a scarf that you can put in your pocket, if you want to see the more sporty products you can watch some of them demoed here, and the scarf can be ordered at the Dhama-Innovations website.
I will say as a criticism that that the website looks like they were a bit short for words and threw in a lot of filler, although I understand how it’s hard to convey that potentially the biggest technological energy saver the modern world has seen looks a little like a whiplash collar and cools your entire body by cooling the blood in a major artery.
While I don’t think the current presentation of these is the ultimate must-have, this thing impresses the hell out of me for what it could do, and the rest of their products (such as the cooled/heated dress shirt) look significantly neater for someone who’s always too hot or coldin a dress shirt.
It’s a little bit pricey, coming in at $158.00USD, unless you consider you potentially can save that in a few months by not using air conditioning at your house. Your mileage will vary, as will your desire to wear a portable air conditioner.