Heating and cooling the human body with wirelessly-powered devices

Goodrich, P. J., Fierro, G., Luu, V., Zhang, H., & Arens, E. , Paper presented at the Journal of Physics: Conference Series ,1052(1)

It’s likely that you or someone you know is regularly dissatisfied with the thermal environment of

the building that they work in. This is no coincidence - the statistics for occupant comfort in both the

United States and abroad are miserable.  In fact, current American Society of Heating, Refrigeration,

and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards only require 80% of occupants to report comfort.

Numerous studies have come out in recent years that show occupant comfort leads to higher productivity

[1] and happiness [2].  Rather than making expensive retrofits to buildings, PCS can provide thermal

comfort that can be tuned to the needs of the user. If building designers and operators can find effective

ways to allow building temperatures to vary over a wider range, while allowing occupants individual

control of comfort, the potential for energy savings is enormous. However, many of these technologies

require wired connections, don’t communicate with each other, and don’t seamlessly fit into daily life.

The goal of this work is to expand the use of PCS by reducing their need for wired connections. To

do this, we developed a suite of devices that flexibly and efficiently transfer electrical power through

wireless power coupling. The selection of thermal comfort devices was influenced by preliminary human

studies, where we mapped the thermal sensitivity across the body.  The data we collected from these

studies are both quantitative (temperature of skin) and qualitative (user reported sensation). These results

led us to devise a suite of four thermal comfort devices to be implemented into commercial buildings: a

desk fan, heated/cooled wristpad, a heated/cooled chair, and a heated insole.

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