If it seems like the summers just keep getting hotter, you’re not imagining things. Last year was the third-warmest on record, and the summer of 2019 was the hottest since we started recording such things more than 140 years ago. The right fabrics can, of course, help keep you cool. But, sometimes, that’s not enough. That’s why Sony is using its considerable ingenuity to throw technology at the problem with the new Reon pocket air conditioner.
The Reon Pocket is an ultra-portable “wearable air conditioner.” The sleek, all-white device is smaller than a deck of cards, so it’s designed to be almost invisible. The wearer slides it into a special pocket sewn near the top rear of a corresponding lightweight Sony undershirt. Through a bit of clever science, it promises to drop the wearer’s body surface temperature up to 23 degrees Fahrenheit in hot weather. In winter, it can act as a miniature heater by raising the surface temperature as much as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
A companion smartphone app (for Android and iOS) controls the Reon via Bluetooth. Users can manually set their preferred temperature, or switch to auto to let the device handle the heating or cooling for them. In auto mode, Reon reads the wearer’s activity level through built-in motion sensors, then dials the power up or down accordingly. It charges in around two hours through a standard USB-C plug and lasts up to three hours.
Reon might sound like a silly “As Seen on TV” novelty, but it’s based on sound, 19th-century science. It uses the Peltier effect to raise the temperature on one side of the device while lowering it on the other. When pressed directly against the skin with the built-in silicone pad, it can actually regulate body surface temperature. It also works as a handheld device, though not nearly as effectively.
The Reon is primarily available through the Sony Japan online store for around $120 (¥13,000). Add another $20 for the matching V-neck shirt (available in small, medium, and large). So far, however, it’s been so popular that Sony is having a hard time keeping it in stock.
If a fancy wearable gadget isn’t enough, check out our roundup of the best portable air conditioners to keep you cool this summer.