Robots, Smart Clothing and HVAC: A Glimpse Into the Future

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

If you haven’t noticed it already, here at Daffan Cooling & Heating we are big-time HVAC technology geeks, nerds, super-fans or whatever you’d like to call us. So we’re always interested in what the future may bring the world when it comes to heating and cooling homes and businesses.

If you’re ever curious about the cutting-edge of just about any type of energy-related technology, visit the website of ARPA-E, the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. ARPA-E recently made headlines when it announced that it had achieved some breakthroughs in energy storage for batteries that could potentially change the nature of the U.S. electrical grid within five to 10 years.

The agency’s scientists have also turned their talents toward finding ways to reduce costs of heating and cooling buildings. For one project, they’ve taken an “outside the box” approach of exploring ways to heat or cool the people within a building, rather than the building itself.

It kind of makes sense, when you think about it. You’re paying good money to keep the ceiling area of your living room a comfy 72 degrees — yet you never spend any time hanging out up on the ceiling (unless you’re Spiderman).

Under its

(DELTA) program, ARPA-E scientist are developing heating and cooling devices that you can wear, sit on, or that will follow you around to keep you comfortable. That’s right–imagine a robotic fan following you throughout your day at work, keeping you nice and cool.

That’s the premise behind the University of Maryland’s Roving Comforter (RoCo for short), which was on display at ARPA-E’s Energy Innovation Summit, Feb. 29-March 2 in Washington, D.C. According to a CityLab article, RoCo is a heat pump on wheels that follows its master, directing heated or cooled air to his or her body.

Other interesting tech showcased at the summit includes a smart undershirt that uses RFID sensors to detect when a wearer is hot or cold, then directs air through a tubing system in the shirt to quickly bring the wearer to a comfortable temperature.

And just like some of us are lucky enough to have heated and cooled seats in our cars or trucks, a team from UC Berkeley has created an ergonomic office chair that will do the same. This chair is smart to boot, equipped with WiFi and Bluetooth technology to share information from the building’s HVAC system. Startup Personal Comfort Systems is marketing a version of this chair called the Hyperchair. It can be yours for a cool $1,900.